Avoiding digital chaos: Part 3: Consumer need for privacy protection

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August 24, 2023 - In part two of our Avoiding digital chaos series, we looked at common cyber threats and opportunities that arise from advancing technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), virtual reality, and machine learning. Now, we discuss the growing need for digital trust, privacy, and data governance in the digital age as organizations become reliant on new technologies.

The digital age is seeing organizations rely increasingly on new technologies such as AI to conduct and drive their business. This comes during a time where consumers increasingly lack trust and are more cautious about which organizations they share data with. A 2020 McKinsey study reveals that the healthcare and financial services industries are most trusted to handle personal data, but no other industry reached a trust rating of 50%, showing the need for digital trust, privacy, and data protection at the core of business strategy.

The more technology a company uses, the more opportunities arise for data to be compromised and exploited. For example, in January 2023, email marketing platform Mailchimp experienced its third data breach in 12 months. Breaches to third-party platforms are showing no signs of slowing, making it imperative for organizations who adopt new technologies to secure their data.

The current situation

Many organizations approach data protection and privacy from a compliance perspective. Regulations such as General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the US establish strict compliance obligations for organizations to follow. However, it’s now imperative to take a holistic approach and consider the fundamental rights of individuals in the broader societal context of technology, innovation, and the world at large.

A new outlook on privacy

Data protection and privacy should be viewed as a fundamental necessity and not a box-ticking exercise. It is crucial for organizations to consider the privacy and data-protection rights of their customers and stakeholders from the very beginning of a product lifecycle or business idea. By doing so, risks can be identified and addressed early on, maximizing privacy-protection measures and ensuring that the rights of data subjects are protected.

By adopting this proactive, rights-based approach to privacy and data protection, organizations can also notice greater customer retention and the ability to secure more business. ATB Financial’s Dichotomy of tech and trust report highlights that 63% of respondents are inclined to move their buying power to organizations that respect their privacy, showing how strong an influence good privacy practices have over purchasing.

By making a rights-based approach a central part of a company's culture and strategy, organizations can differentiate themselves from their competition and build a strong foundation of digital trust with their customers.

The way forward

The protection of privacy and data is a critical enabler for building and maintaining digital trust in today’s information society. By considering the needs of customers and stakeholders upfront and making privacy and data protection a priority and differentiator, companies can create meaningful competitive advantages and build lasting trust in their brands. A prevailing requirement that privacy is built in, protected, and even enhanced will continue to influence consumer decisions, inform procurement processes, define regulatory enforcement, and shape societal expectations into the 21st century and beyond.

Catch up on Avoiding digital chaos part one: Why a strong brand reputation is your armour and two: The threats and opportunities of new technology. Listen to the full Connect Summit session: Trust Amongst the Digital Chaos. For more insights on other digital trust, privacy, information security, and environmental, health, and safety topics that should be at the top of your organization's list, visit BSI's Experts Corner.