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Dealing with changing privacy regulations and decreasing user data accuracy

Digital privacy and security issues are no longer something only “computer experts” worry about. In the past, users like you and me would happily share their data with companies in exchange for a free service. However, this has changed during the last few years, as people have become more aware of the nonstop data collection of their digital footprints, and the extensive data breaches reported in the news every once in a while keep them on their toes.

Given this decreased lack of trust, it’s not surprising that consumers frequently want to limit the types of data they share with businesses and won’t comply with the use of data anymore even if it provided them with a free service or offers at a great price. All of the above has also prompted governments to enact new even stricter user privacy regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). Governments outside Europe and the United States have also begun to enact data-privacy regulations. In Brazil, for example, the Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados, or LGPD (General Data Protection Law) did go into effect in August 2020. 

Although very important, these regulations and consumer demand for digital privacy require companies to continuously adapt their approach. How are brands able to operate successfully without buyers’ information? How much should they rely on social media and other tech companies fueling their business? Are our current cyber laws limiting the good that companies could do for the everyday user? On top of all that, Apple and Google move even faster than legislation with cookie elimination by the end of 2022. Think about your analytics without the ability to retarget (Anonymous Site Visit), reduced accuracy (Category Browsing, Filtering, Search), inaccurate experiments on product page viewing, and unreliable attribution.

To make your way in the jungle of ever-evolving user privacy regulations and fill in the lack of third party data that awaits in the near future, we recommend you bear the following four tips in mind.

1. Obtain authentication early across sources

Because of the many privacy tools now available, consumers have more control over their personal information, such as web browsers with built-in cookie blockers, ad-blocking software, and incognito browsers. However, Data Loss Prevention systems can help you keep data in-house by using a special Data Collection Layer that monitors for sensitive information leaving the network. Data masking is another effective way to protect information while still conducting analytics on it. Additionally, Data Discovery tools are helpful when trying to identify what kind of data you have and where that data lives across your enterprise. Data Discovery tools can be used to identify sensitive data, find its owners and indicate how it flows through the organization.

While this is a lot of information to digest, remember that Data Loss Prevention systems are meant for early detection by monitoring network activity in real-time across data sources. Data Masking helps ensure you still have access to your full dataset, while Data Discovery tools help you understand how data flows through your organization. 

2. Move away from cross-app site tracking and double down on first-party data

Deploying first-party connected pipelines connects consumers, marketers and data sources in real-time. Data stored on the platform is enriched by using a combination of internal business process flows, APIs from third-party providers who are required to share their data per industry regulations, as well as direct integration with social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter where possible. This data is then used to create a single view of each consumer and can be shared with selected third parties using Data as a Service.

3. Send data server-to-server where possible

Most of the time data servers are harder for hackers to breach than individual workstations. Data server-to-server is especially useful when data needs to be transmitted between companies with strict privacy requirements, such as healthcare providers and financial institutions. For example, the NHS currently has had a large deficit for years, which will have an impact on waiting times in A&E departments across England if not tackled effectively. In addition, if you have apps that run on devices with OSes produced by Apple Inc., Facebook has a new dedicated enterprise app designed specifically for businesses using iPhones and iPads.

4. Consider data protection as a competitive advantage, not an inescapable must-do

Data is the lifeblood of your product and should thus be used responsibly. Data privacy will never be a “set-it-and-forget-it” issue for brands. Rather, they should embrace evolving regulations as an opportunity. Data protection and privacy need to be core business goals, not just an afterthought in terms of compliance and risk management. Data privacy should be considered in every business case and decision, from how data is collected to when it’s shared with third parties. 

Although data protection is not a new concept, it is now seen as a competitive advantage for the first time. Leading companies are learning that by promoting your commitment to privacy and data protection you can set yourself apart from the rest. You should thus see user privacy regulations as an opportunity to portray your business as a responsible and trustworthy organisation that proactively protects its customers. To strengthen consumer trust, you should also focus on transparency throughout the collection, storage and processing of the data. 

Feeling enlightened? Or more confused than ever..? If your answer is the latter one, we are happy to help you with your challenges concerning digital privacy and user data management. Just send us a message, and we’ll get back to you a soon as possible!

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Marko Joensuu

Principal Consultant

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