Mobilozophy Mobile Marketing Blog

When Consumers Trust You with Location Data

April 18, 2019 by Lynn Bates

 Consumers are under no obligation to share their data with you. When they do so, it's a matter of trust. You are ethically and legally obligated to ensure that trust is well-placed. Location-based data is particularly sensitive because it allows you to glean information about where a customer's mobile device is from moment to moment.

But why do consumers provide your company with this delicate information in the first place? How can you best respect the trust they place in you, and how can you provide your customers with real value in return for their information? Read on to learn more about the importance of customer trust vis-a-vis privacy, and how best to treat users and their data.

The Importance of Privacy

Privacy isn't just an issue of ethics: it's the law. Several governments have recently passed laws that require companies that gather data to inform customers of how they use that data, and to give them the information they need to opt out of data collection.

These laws change frequently, so it's a good idea to research them in greater depth on your own or consult a lawyer. However, it's clear that the age of companies blithely collecting consumer data is long gone. An increasing number of companies are expressing concerns about the "creepiness" of collecting user data, especially location-based data. And while users are still interested in the convenience they can gain from signing over their data to companies, they're worried about potential consequences of unethical use and data breaches. Understandably, they want greater control over their data.

Interacting with Customers about Their Data

When you're using customers' data, you're engaging in a delicate dance. Leaving aside the (significant) legal issues, you need to be completely transparent about what you do, in order to build and maintain consumer trust. Follow this advice:

Make your privacy policy as clear and concise as possible. There's a time for legalese, and this isn't it: dry, lengthy privacy policies alienate users and leave them feeling suspicious (when they read them at all). After years of unclear privacy policies, many governments are finally demanding that companies make things more transparent. You don't have to chuck your legal language entirely -- it has a purpose -- but provide users with a clear summary so they can make intelligent decisions.

Ensure you obtain consent. You shouldn't just automatically collect a user's location data. You need to obtain users' consent before collecting their location information. Additionally, remind users that they can turn off data collection by going to the Location-Based Services section of their phone settings or providing them an alternate way to opt-out of the data collection.

Make it worthwhile to give you data. When customers give up privacy, they should get something significant in return. Most will give you their personal data because they want convenience or personalized content that's closely related to their experience. It's unethical to take customers' data just because you can, and it erodes customers' trust, so make sure you're giving them something of value.

Don't buy and sell data. Selling and trading data has been a flashpoint in the privacy debate. Once a company gives away or sells a user's data, it could go anywhere -- and even if the company strips personally identifying information from that data, that's still not reassuring to consumers. Many governments are demanding companies inform users of third-party data usage, and this alone is a major discouragement from doing so. It's best to stay on the up-and-up, and only use location-based data in-house.

Consumers -- and their governments -- are waking up to the potential risks of sharing data with companies. As a retailer, you need to understand that gathering customers' data is an issue of trust. By handling data -- especially location-based data -- ethically and responsibly, you'll go a long way toward building a brand as a trustworthy, reliable company.

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Topics: Telephone Consumer Privacy Act, TCPA, Consumer Data, GDPR, CCPA

New Consumer Privacy Laws You Should Know

February 06, 2019 by Lynn Bates

 

Hacks of company databases are on the rise. Users are slowly becoming aware of the amount of control companies have over their online data.

Driven by these changes, customers are beginning to change their attitudes toward privacy and personal information. Just in the past few years, lawmakers have taken the first steps toward imposing new privacy regulations on online businesses, which have traditionally been almost entirely unregulated.

Many businesses -- especially small ones -- may find these changes overwhelming. The following is a brief guide to some of the more significant legislation that's passed or been proposed, as of February 2019. As always, if you have questions about how these laws apply to your business, it's best to check with a lawyer.

The GDPR

The European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has forged the way for many privacy bills to follow. While it only affects residents of the EU, many companies that do business internationally will need to adhere to its regulations.

The GDPR is a sweeping set of laws, reinforced by hefty fines for infractions. The regulations' implications are too broad to explore here in depth, but here are some of its key principles:

  • Companies must give users details about how their information is collected and used, in plain language.   They must gain affirmative consent.
  • Within 72 hours of a data breach, companies must notify users.
  • Users have the right to know what personal information a company is collecting on them, and how it's being used . They can receive a copy of that information if they request it.
  • Users have the right to request their data be deleted from a system, and that any processing using that data stop.

The California Consumer Privacy Act

Governor Jerry Brown signed the CCPA into law in 2018, and it's some of the most sweeping privacy legislation that's passed in the U.S. While the law specifically protects citizens of California and only affects larger businesses, it's likely these regulations will transform American industry generally.

The CCPA takes effect in 2020 and establishes the following rights for Californians. Breaching any of these may incur a fine.

  • Californians have the right to know what personal data companies are collecting about them, and to whom (if anyone) these companies are providing this information.
  • They have the right to access their personal information, and say no to its distribution.
  • They have the right to equal services, even if they exercise their privacy rights.

The American Data Dissemination Act

In January 2019, Senator Marco Rubio introduced a bill called the American Data Dissemination Act, or ADD. While it hasn't passed yet (as of February 2019) and may still undergo revisions, it requires the FTC to send Congress recommendations for consumer privacy regulations, which would resemble the Privacy Act of 1974. Congress would then turn these into law (or the FTC could, if Congress fails to act).

The Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act

Senators Amy Klobuchar and John Kennedy teamed up to introduce the Social Media Privacy and Consumer Rights Act in 2018. This law mirrors many requirements put into place by the GDPR: it requires companies to notify users of how their data's collected and used. Users must have options for various privacy settings and companies must notify users within 72 hours if the company experiences a data breach. As of February 2019, this bill hasn't passed and remains in committee.

Laws like the GDPR and CCPA have the power to transform how companies gather and use customer data. More potential regulations are on the horizon. By staying abreast of regulations as they pass, you'll be able to collect and use your customers' data to improve their experience, in a legal, ethical way.

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Topics: Telephone Consumer Privacy Act, TCPA, Consumer Data, GDPR, CCPA

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