Eye on Privacy: Who Do You Trust to Track Privacy?
Are you as overwhelmed as I am by the speed at which the privacy landscape is changing? It's not enough to watch what's happening in the U.S. Congress. The states are active, the courts are involved and, if your business is global, then tracking privacy activity across the globe is a 24/7 job. How do you keep up? Are you confident that you are doing enough?
Since the beginning of the year, there have been major privacy developments that could impact your business. Were you aware that:
- The U.S. Senate and House have introduced several new Internet privacy bills;
- The U.S. Senate formed a new privacy subcommittee;
- The European Commission plans to reform the EU Data Protection Rules;
- The California Supreme Court ruled that retailers cannot ask customers to provide ZIP codes at checkout because it is considered to be PII (personally identifiable information); and
- The U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing a case this spring that could change pharmaceutical marketing?
Privacy has become a complex issue for marketers to manage. It's not just about the data we collect. It's also about the platforms on which it's collected; whether the data crosses borders; whether it's collected passively or with the subject's knowledge; how notice is given and the ability to opt in or out; how it's used and shared; and last, but not least, the security of the data throughout the process. All of these things come under the scrutiny of regulators and the landscape can change quickly. On top of that, most of the new regulations contain penalties, and the cost of not knowing can be onerous.
There is no single answer about how to track privacy regulations and rulings, but here are some options you can consider:
One of the major roles of industry associations is advocacy. These associations are our voice in Washington D.C. and in the state capitals on issues that affect our businesses, and some address privacy issues at a global level. As part of this advocacy, they also keep their membership informed.
Your challenge is to make sure you are joining the associations that serve you best and evaluating your association memberships each year based on changes to your business model. As a marketer, you should probably be a member of one or more of the following:
- Direct Marketing Association (DMA)
- Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB)
- American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA)
- Association of National Advertisers (ANA)
- International Advertising Association (IAA)
- Mobile Marketing Association (MMA)
Privacy Newsletters and
If you have a staff devoted to privacy and security issues, then subscribing to newsletters and clipping services, which take time and resources to review, might be a good option. This is a smart option only if you make the time to read them. Some services to consider:
Privacy Practices Within Law Firms
If your organization is on the forefront of privacy issues, implementing new technologies, using data in new ways or pioneering new marketing techniques, then engaging with a law firm that has a privacy practice could be a good choice. Different firms offer different approaches, but all should be able to help you manage your privacy and security risks. To provide some options, here is a list of the law firms that ranked in the top 10 of Computerworld's Survey: Best Privacy Advisers of 2010:
- Hunton & Williams
- Morrison & Foerster
- Foley & Lardner
- Privacy & Information Management Services
- Hogan Lovells
- Covington & Burling
Whatever approach you choose, it won't be enough just to track the changes in the privacy landscape. Your business processes are bound to change as a result of new regulations that come forth in 2011. So after you decide whom to trust in tracking these changes, make sure someone in your business has the authority and responsibility to make sure you comply with new privacy legislation and guidelines.