Technology companies gather a vast amount of personal information about us all the time. They know what we’ve purchased, what we want to purchase, where we live and work, the online sites we visit, and where we spend our time. They know our transportation choices, dating preferences, political leanings, and our personal taste in everything from clothing to entertainment to food. This information gives companies an immense competitive edge with marketing to our deepest desires and fears.
In the wrong hands, this data can be used against us. Cybercriminals can steal our identities or blackmail us. They can discover the valuable items we keep in our homes, when we aren’t at home, and if we have a security system for protection. Even without the threats from criminals, tech companies have sometimes misused or mishandled our data, resulting in flawed credit reports, the accidental release of sensitive and embarrassing personal information, and corrupted data that can contribute to a variety of painful complications. However, even when data is collected and used in compliance with applicable laws and best practices, we may not feel comfortable with the way our information is being used, or even with knowing that companies have our private data in the first place.
Calls for Regulation
Every year, the demand increases for more laws about how organizations collect and store data. Concerns from consumers, governments, and NGOs around the world result in regulations like the 2018 EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and the 2020 Brazilian General Data Protection Law (LGPD). Significantly, a consistent theme in this trend is the demand for data transparency.
What is Data Transparency?
Data transparency has two key aspects. The first is transparency within the communication systems through which the data flows. This means the data should be easily accessed and managed regardless of the application that initially received the data, how it was collected, transferred, and stored. The second aspect of data transparency concerns the source of the data, and its accuracy, consent and use.
Efforts to ensure data transparency seek to strengthen the individual’s rights, hold accountable those who retain the data through its entire life cycle, and permit the fair and lawful processing of the data.
Transparency benefits serve:
- Consumers, by giving them confidence in the system they entrust with their data.
- Marketers, so they are assured of the accuracy of the data.
- Platforms, validating that the data collection methods are trustworthy.
Organizations can use the following list to measure their transparency and determine their sufficiency. Transparency is also essential for all the organizations handling the data throughout the data’s life cycle.
- Establish and maintain user-friendly procedures for people to access, rectify, delete, or object to the processing of their data.
- Develop systems that keep data only as long as necessary.
- Inform people about the purpose for holding personal data, how it is processed, and intentions for transferring data to other parties. This information should be presented at the time of collection.
- Use clear language stating the organization’s efforts to be transparent and its compliance with applicable regulations. (See: What is a Trust Center?)
Balancing the advantages of collecting personal data with meeting consumer and legal demands for transparency is a serious but rewarding process. Failure to provide robust data transparency exposes your company to liabilities and potentially severe punishment from the unforgiving ire of governments, regulating bodies, and consumers. However, when you get it right, especially when you hire the services of a professional data systems company, the commercial benefits become unlimited.
For companies handling digital information, a Trust Center is essential in helping your customers understand how you are keeping their data private and secure. And keeping your customers well-informed about how you handle their data is the core of data transparency.
You may contact one of our trust center experts to find out how to get started with a reliable trust center.
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a no-pressure, free consultation.
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