Act with integrity: Respect the consumer’s privacy

Copyright: thingass / 123RF Stock Photo

Ever since lawmakers moved last week to repeal the Federal Communications Commission’s stringent online privacy rules, much has been written about online privacy. The conversation is just starting in earnest. The discussion has focused on the lack of consumer privacy that will likely result from Internet Service Providers (ISPs) not having to get permission from customers before collecting and sharing their web browsing history, app usage and geo-location.

The reality is that the lines of online privacy have already been blurred and customers — most of them passively due to privacy rule complexity — have agreed to share significant personal information in order to access services and obtain products at favorable prices. A recent Pew study found that 79% of Internet users use Facebook and 29% use LinkedIn. In order to do so, users must accept the privacy policy, including providing permission for the use of their web browsing history, app usage and geo-location information.

In using online services and products, users give up aspects of their privacy, and that seems to be acceptable up to a point. But how do you know you are not crossing that line? This week I posted on the Digital Governance Blog my thoughts on sound data collection practices for organizations. It is a good starting point if you are doing any data collection through digital channels including web, mobile, social, email, and customer relationship platforms.

As we have learned time and time again, the right to online privacy is evolving. However, we can build a relationship of trust with online prospects and customers, and interact with integrity.