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Why we still encourage the avoidance of US-based data systems

The evil side of tracking.

We’re not being smug. There’s nothing to be smug about when it comes to predicting how personal it was going to get for the general public when it comes to data privacy. But, our director Greg did make an accurate prediction back in 2003 about the Big Brother culture.

What’s happening in 2020?

You should read this talk by Laura Kalbag, initially given at New Adventures Conference in January of this year. It’s eye-opening.

The TL;DR is this:

It starts off with the explanation of how companies gather our data and then segment us based on things they learn. It gets freaky, really quickly.

The issue isn’t that they are tracking us. It’s what they’re sharing with other companies with no regard to data privacy. They track things about us, secretly. Deeply personal things.

Oracle used to use this as a selling point with Eloqua. They boasted the ability to tap into the data other companies held about contacts. This was utilising its huge network of customers.

We are told that tracking is part of modern-day tech. We’re expected to accept that the price of using it is our personal data. We’re told it’s for our own good if we want personalised experiences. What we’re not told is how, in the wrong hands, our data is used for discrimination. It stops being about figuring out what we want and becomes intrusive to the point of figuring out who we are on an overly-intimate level.

Beyond your political views, some companies are farming data that you might not be happy to be divulging across the internet. For example, if your search history includes queries about drugs, suicide, maybe even abortion. They’ll also figure out if you’re an influencer or likely to be influenced and use that in how they advertise to you. Yet these companies swear blind they do not collect data they consider to be ‘sensitive’.

Tracking doesn’t have to be evil.

Tracking can benefit humans and not just corporate pockets. Ethical marketing is a very real thing.

US-based systems like Marketo and HubSpot are under scrutiny at the moment for their parts in a huge discovery whereby up to 5,000 US companies were sharing personal data from the EU (where laws are much stricter). These companies are being given little to no grace period to make fundamental changes in protecting data privacy better. Good.

Ethical marketing

This is not so much a strategy as a philosophy for informing marketing efforts. Responsibility, fairness and honesty are at the heart of all advertising. As being ‘ethical’ is subjective, there isn’t a list of rules to abide by so much as a set of guidelines, but it clearly states:

Consumer privacy should never be compromised.

For companies trying to increase a positive brand image and retain customers, sometimes they might embark on some unethical behaviours like digging deep into your personal lives to retarget you with content that will resonate. But, customers should never feel manipulated and should always be able to trust you.

In our next blog we’ll discuss ethical marketing in more depth with regard to GDPR and third-party cookies (more specifically, dumping them).

If you’d like to talk to us about ethical marketing systems, we’d love a chat.




Code Enigma is a community of creative souls and the technically brilliant, dedicated to building a better world wide web.

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Maygen Jacques

Maygen Jacques

Marketing Manager for web design, development and hosting agency, @CodeEnigma. Hold my drink, I’ll be right back…

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