Successful Analytics ebook 2
Successful Analytics ebook 2
When you collect data on people, you automatically inherit responsibilities for that data. In all developed countries (and in most of the world in general), there are data protection laws that govern this, and you should at least be aware of the basic principles. For example, in Europe, the fundamentals are that you put the end user first and that you ask for permission before collecting data. From that guiding baseline you can build and refine for your specific requirements-such as defining what constitutes permission (explicit verses implicit).
This chapter discusses the privacy debate-in general terms and specifically in relation to the European Union (EU). It includes an approach for evaluating your privacy level with best-practice tips on protecting your reputation in this area and building visitor trust. Beyond privacy considerations, it discusses how to structure and protect your data from accidental (or deliberate) pollution and deletion and plan for future changes in the fluid data protection landscape.
ALL ABOUT PRIVACY
Although I always try to base my decisions on good data, I am also a strong privacy advocate. Those two ideals are not mutually exclusive. Data enthusiasts are always on a quest to find more supporting data or better-quality data, but end-user privacy is a fundamental human right to be respected. 1 , 2 , 3
A detailed view of differing privacy attitudes by geography can be found at the Economist , 4 but in general privacy concerns vary by region as follows:
- In the US the "average person" is concerned with government intrusion and a bureaucracy overhead when they think about online privacy worries.
- In Europe (more specifically the EU), the concerns tend to focus on advertisers and companies harvesting information to sell to third parties or to bombard you with spam.
- In Asia, in general the concern when discussing privacy is about a "surveillance state." This is probably connected to the fact that only 6 of 23 countries in this region are democracies. 5
Tracking Versus Spying-The Snowden Impact
The Edward Snowden "affair" took the existing privacy debate to a much broader audience. To the general public, the tracking of visitors for commercial reasons appears no different from government security agencies surreptitiously trawling the Internet en masse. The resultant perception is that all tracking is scary and invasive and may one day be used against you. Although I advocate that people should be more aware of their online privacy footprint, the concern in the digital analytics industry post Snowden is that people will start to block commercial tracking techniques more affirmatively-for example, using ad-blocker software, opting out when requested, and blocking or deleting cookies.
Regardless of whether this happens, the reality is that if you use the Internet, some degree of tracking is inevitable. After all, your IP address has to be transmitted to the destination you connect to in order for it to work. Hence there are degrees of privacy (shades of gray).
If analysts, marketers, website owners, and all the other interested data parties take care and respect end-user privacy, there are good reasons for visitors to continue to share information-it benefits both the end user (with better-performing websites and sales offers) and website owners (with an increased return on investment because of their ability to make better, more targeted decisions). This of course is circular: as ROI improves, consumers get increasingly better deals. However, if a mass evasion of tracking by end users ensues, the digital world will, by necessity, take a very large step back-reverting to the bad old days of interruption marketing.
The Privacy Debate