Beyond Covid-19: looking to the future of data privacy in marketing and HR

When you start something new it’s usually very exciting, a blank sheet, something you can create as a team. This is different. Due to the Covid-19 crisis we’ve had to radically change our plans for marketing and HR, we’ve been collecting huge amounts of data including Article 9 data. Now that we’re trying to define what the new normal is for our businesses, we have to find new approaches and new ways of working together.

Fundamental data privacy principles are still the same

A good way to start is probably by reminding ourselves that the principles of data privacy haven’t actually changed. Many view compliance with data privacy laws as a necessity to avoid fines. The good news here is that the laws are still there, maybe they haven’t been enforced during this crisis but that will soon return to normal. There have been signals, even by the government, that companies can do anything as long as it is in the public interest but the laws definitely haven’t changed.

When we look at why the laws remain unchanged we get to the second point that’s still the same, which is the reason why data privacy matters. At the heart of it all is that personal data belongs to the people around us, our staff and colleagues, our customers and the many groups of people we have interactions with, and what we do with that data as a business can cause real harm to real people.

The last thing to mention here is that a business’s reputation and trust in a brand/and employer are also still at least as important as ever. When people trust you with their data they want to feel reassured that it is only ever used appropriately.

At the heart of it all is that personal data belongs to the people around us, and what we do with that data as a business can cause real harm to real people.

Overcollected data creates an enormous temptation for marketing

As we’re finding our own paths to a new normal, our marketing departments will face the huge task of creating an enormous amount of demand to help make our businesses profitable. The temptation to play fast and loose with privacy will be enormous. You’ll need to get your brand’s voice heard among all the loud noise made by your competitors.

Data-driven lead generation specialists will be saying that with the right use of data we could do such powerful things - and the amount of overcollected, overshared, undersecured data floating around is significant. That’s where Jeff Goldblum’s immortal words from Jurassic Park come in: ‘your people spent so much time working out whether they could, they never stopped to ask whether they should.’

Now is the time to work with your marketing department on embedding privacy by design

Privacy by design can be a win-win for your organisation, keeping your business on the right side of the law while building trust by demonstrating to customers and employees that the business still values their rights. This is as much about the chain of custody and the consents as it is about the tone used in communications.

Privacy by design can be a win-win for your organisation, keeping your business on the right side of the law while building trust.

Minimising data collection and cleaning up overcollected data are urgent HR tasks

We’ve come to adopt a new normal: tracking people’s movement using their phone data, rolling out fitness tracking apps and asking people to report their Covid status daily have become accepted or tolerated. And so have tracing people’s contacts using their address books. Once the pandemic and the fear have somewhat eased, regulators - and, more importantly, data subjects - will start to care about data privacy again.

That’s why data that is not or is no longer required to protect employees and customers must be deleted - or at least anonymised if there is sufficient scientific interest in its value. Covid tracking apps must be retired rather than tweaked and then used for other surveillance purposes. Permissions to access data and permissions to access it remotely need to be reviewed.

Gain your competitive advantage

This is an opportunity for you to use this restart as a chance to start afresh with data privacy in your organisation and if you need help communicating the commercial benefits to other stakeholders within your organisation, contact us for an informal chat.

Once the pandemic and the fear have somewhat eased, regulators - and, more importantly, data subjects - will start to care about data privacy again.

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