Privacy in 2017: Too little, too late? | DMA

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Privacy in 2017: Too little, too late?


In an age of invasive technology where our lives are laid bare and made available to the highest bidder. Where we are strafed by daily stories of data breaches and corporate data handling ineptitude. Where Snowden, Manning and WikiLeaks supply us undesirable facts about the extent to which privacy has gone the way of the dinosaurs…

The question arises: can we do anything about this? Should we care?

For us, a raft of legislation and rules is about to make landfall. There have been numerous articles detailing GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the ePrivacy Directive and the EU-US Privacy Shield.

New laws aim to improve the privacy landscape and give us back some sort of control- control that has, until now, sat with social networking sites, government organisations and marketing agencies.

This has created a conflict between, user rights and marketing/government, activities that will, eventually, end with no clear winners.

Does Privacy Matter?

A phrase we hear frequently is “I’m not concerned about privacy because I have nothing to hide!” This is simply not true. There is plenty of information most of us would prefer to “hide” or for a better term, remain private. We should have complete visibility as to how any information about us will be used, protected and shared.

In November 2016, Theresa May pushed the Investigative Powers Bill into UK law, nicknamed the ‘Snoopers Charter’, this required all service providers to retain the browsing history of all UK citizens for 12 months. This information would be made available to various government organisations (48 of them!) including, HM Revenue and Customs, the Food Standards Agency and the Scottish Ambulance Service Board.

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has hailed this as “world-leading legislation.” She is right, but this should not be praised. Do we want to be recognized as pioneers of removing basic human rights and privacy?

Privacy does matter for many reasons, not least of which are:

  • To limit the power governments and companies have over us.

  • To protect our interests and reputation.

  • Trust for individuals and brands.

  • Freedom of thought and speech.

Control over what can be accessed and what can be done with our private information should be an ingrained human right, and not one we should give up without a fight. Is GDPR arriving at a crucial time and will it hopefully provide a turning point for individual rights?

Amongst the chaos and squabble there is an opportunity for each of us to redress the balance and reclaim some core rights.

For big business, there is a clear opportunity too., Those companies and platforms that can embrace the coming changes by providing the security and transparency that is being called for will find it easier to build trust and a loyal customer base.

Marketers will also see opportunities here. Having a digitally knowledgeable populace will mean that individuals will have a clearer understanding of how and why their data is being retained and what benefits may be possible.

In a Nutshell.

For decades’ personal privacy has been trampled underfoot, things are now changing and regulations like the GDPR are driving that shift. We all need to embrace the upcoming changes and ensure we are well informed and knowledgeable.

As individuals we should make our voices heard and ensure we hold the companies we deal with to account are embracing the changes.

As businesses and marketers, we need to understand why things are changing, show that we take the changes seriously and adopt practices that reflect the core values individuals are seeking.

Giles Kirkham, Information Security Officer at Occam DM Ltd (part of the St Ives Group)

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