Monday, May 9, 2016

Chief Information Officers: 3 ways internet privacy can keep customers happy and loyal

As Chief Information Officer, you want to safeguard your customer’s personal data through responsible policies that balance corporate interests with consumers’ privacy rights. As an aspiring data analyst, I did some research for Medill’s Integrated Marketing Certificate program into precautions online businesses should take to maintain trust with consumers.

Big data can encroach on consumer’s lives without them or the data manager knowing it. Fusion writer Kashmir Hill’s article, How an Internet Mapping Glitch Turned a Random Kansas Farm into a Digital Hell,  talks about how a glitch in a digital mapping company’s database pointed to a random Kansas farm as the source of cyber offenses.  MaxMind, a Massachusetts-based company, provides the location of IP addresses for digital stalking. The problem was, in the cases where geolocation was unavailable, MaxMind pointed to the middle of the U.S., which turns out to be a Kansas farm. This obviously raises consumer privacy issues, not least of which is being victimized remotely as a result of a technical oversight.

God's Eye: Don't abuse the powers of Big Data (Credit: naked security)
CIOs should also be wary about government requests for data. Sarah Jeong’s article for The Atlantic,  How a Cashless Society Could Embolden Big Brother, details how easily government can bend online businesses like PayPal to its will. Some government-targeted categories online are legitimate like scams, but stigmatized activities like pornography are also lumped in the same category. Caving to government demands infringes on free speech through the internet. In my opinion, this form of intrusion is more subtle and invasive than the government's attempt to access locked iPhones in the Apple vs. FBI debate. Government is wrapping its arms around digital transactions, in effect imposing political views on the entire internet.

After reviewing these two articles, here are 3 action items you need to consider:

·      Protect Anonymous Identities—If you say you’re going to keep your consumer data anonymous, you should follow through on that promise.

·      Recognize Government Intrusion—Don’t acquiesce with government requests out of fear. Understand its motivations, and stick by your consumers.  

·      Build Consumer Trust – Be transparent about how your company handles consumer data in your privacy policy and consumers will trust you more. 
Remember: Privacy is a selling proposition! Just look at Apple, which has earned consumer trust by promising not to sell your personal information.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I am intrigued and wary of the potential uses for Big Data in marketing.  Private-public data sharing will become increasingly more relevant as our lives become digitized with the advent of Internet of Things. I hope to use the power of advocacy  and trend-spotting in my journalism and marketing degree at Medill to prepare people for this data revolution. 

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