In an age of digital surveillance and mass data collection, users have to decide if data privacy is worth trading for convenience. While certain forms of data collection are necessary for businesses, users can become wary of accepting terms and conditions that hand over extensive access to their personal data or devices. In reality, however, many users do not take the time to read the “terms and conditions” and often end up accepting terms that they wouldn’t be comfortable with if they understood the implications.
Certain regulations are in place to limit the amount of data that businesses can collect and influence how they handle said data. One such example is GDPR compliance, which affects businesses with users or customers in the EU. Regardless of regulations, businesses can stand out by showing users that they understand the importance of data security and management.
Here are a few basic tips for data collection and data privacy best practices:
Data Collection Tip #1 – Be Transparent About Your Intentions
Often, one of the biggest concerns for users is that they don’t understand what they are agreeing to. Companies use extremely technical language to explain their data collection practices. Businesses can stand out by clearly laying out what data is collected and how the data will be managed, secured and used. Additionally, it would be important to note if and how users may inquire about their data.
Companies should inform users of which features are optional and how to change them. If there are ways to limit access to data collection, consumers will most likely want to know about them. Utilizing speech that is understandable is one way to score big with potential users. Even if it is necessary to provide the technical documentation to defer any legal consequences, an additional summary will go a long way. It will help keep new users informed and keep current users content.
Data Collection Tip #2 – Consistency is Key
If for some reason, your data collection practices do change, it is important to update users about the change. Just like any software update, a change to the terms and conditions is valuable information. Depending on the extent of the situation, it may be necessary to have users agree to the updated terms. Again, beyond merely avoiding legal trouble, it will help to ensure that users agree to the information that is being collected. One benefit of this update is that users will make a renewed commitment to using your software or mobile app. A simple action could turn into an opportunity to increase brand loyalty.
Data Collection Tip #3 – Keep Equitability in Mind
Businesses would do well to ask themselves, Does my service match the level of information I am collecting? Regardless of whether users will freely offer their data, that doesn’t mean that companies should collect all the personal data that is possibly available. If your mobile app or software is a front to collect user information and sell it to third-party marketers, you should probably think again. There are multiple alternative monetization strategies available. This consideration goes beyond mere transparency and consistency for data privacy best practices. The data that is collected should be directly related to your service, in order to fulfill or improve the service for customers.
Data Collection and Privacy Use Cases
FaceApp is an example of a mobile app that is under scrutiny for how they could store and use photographs of users as well as share data with advertisers. Since the app originates from Russia, the FBI was also concerned about its potential as a counterintelligence threat. Though evidence has not been found to support the allegation, it exemplifies how the terms of service and privacy policies play an important role in shaping users’ perception of the true nature of the app.
Other users have speculated whether the recurring “10-year challenge” that is circulating on Facebook is really being used to train facial recognition algorithms. Though Facebook did not launch the challenge, this data is readily available online for the taking. While some are more willing to jump into online trends, others are more cautious and question what is really going on behind the scenes. Facebook remains the largest social networking site in the world and is a prime target for advertisers who capitalize on user information.
Another company that is known for extensive data collection is Buzzfeed. They collect and analyze all sorts of information about their users, from demographic information to patterns of interaction with the site. Though that is not uncommon for websites, perhaps the biggest source of user data comes from their popular quizzes. While visitors are answering seemingly obscure questions to find out what sort of character they are, they are voluntarily divulging information about themselves, whether they realize it or not. Though the data is anonymized and analyzed in aggregate, this information could definitely be used to improve targeted advertising.
The Importance of Data Privacy
In all the examples above, users may not realize what sort of information they are giving out until it is too late. What may feel like deception can lead these consumers to have a negative perception of the brand that slighted them. Additionally, when companies have broken trust or failed to secure personally identifiable information, it can be extremely difficult to win favor again.
Now, as digital interactions continue to increase, it is becoming ever more apparent that nothing is really free. Users are beginning to realize that if there isn’t a monetary cost associated with a service, they are likely the product.
Regardless, users should not have to give up their right to privacy just because they live in a digital age. Companies would do well to fight for the rights of their consumers instead of infringing on the privacy of their personal information. Though they may be skeptical at first, it is amazing how loyal customers can be when they truly feel that they can trust a company.
Data collection and data privacy is not an easy topic. However, businesses can still remain profitable while focusing on benefiting their consumers. When the focus is solely on profit, it will be easier for companies to justify questionable data collection practices and hide their true intentions. However, when the focus is on providing a quality service, integrity becomes a key part of a successful business plan. In the end, consumers want to invest their money in businesses they can trust.
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If you’re considering a mobile app or custom software development project, the team at 7T is ready to help. We can help your business develop the mobile app, ERP software, CRM platform, or SaaS solution that is right for you. Additionally, our team specializes in data governance, cloud integration and system integrations, along with other emerging technologies. Data security is extremely important to us, which is why we offer a secure development framework and end-to-end security features.