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Data Privacy Preferences: Trust and Transparency

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In the past, many people were paranoid about various organizations’ surveillance. The very thought of someone else having their personal data makes them uncomfortable.

Now, while this sounds completely reasonable, the truth is that it’s quite hypocritical (to say the least). Just think about it: You accuse the government and businesses of trying to track you when you take a photo and post every single thing you do throughout the day. It doesn’t take satellite surveillance to figure out where you drink coffee on Tuesday morning when you never skip posting a story while sipping it at your favorite coffee place.

You want them to make better suggestions, not only because you hate having to go through the homepage every time. You want them to remember your previous visit… but you don’t want them to know that it’s you. This type of reasoning is common, natural, and completely illogical. 

In 2024, the question is no longer about whether your data is tracked or not; it’s about why this is done. The answer is simple – it’s so that the businesses trying to market their products/services to you could provide you with an optimal customer experience (CX). They need to know what you like, what you need, and what you want in order to make the most effective offer.

Now, nothing here is shady or underhanded, and the only way to debunk this myth once and for all is with a higher level of trust, which can only be achieved through higher transparency. Here’s what you need to know about data privacy preferences and how they can help you achieve just that.


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  1. Abiding by privacy laws

The first thing we need to get out of the way is the idea that businesses aren’t respecting your personal information out of the goodness of their heart or the great respect they feel for you as a customer. They’re required to by law

Sure, one side-effect of this respect is the fact that you trust them more, but if regulatory bodies didn’t mandate this, it would be really hard to say what this field would look like.

Businesses have less maneuvering space. The jurisdictions of some of these laws are pretty comprehensive, especially when it comes to major regulations like GDPR (for EU citizens) or CCPA (for residents of California).

You see, California privacy laws don’t just apply to residents of California. This is also a requirement for anyone who does business with them. So, if your customers, partners, or vendors are from California, you have to abide by these laws. Since this is such a major business hub, it’s quite difficult to find a business that doesn’t qualify here (other than enterprises that have an exclusively local presence).

Now, generating compliances shouldn’t be that difficult of a task. However, when you take into consideration the fact that you may be under so many jurisdictions and that these regulations change at such a pace that it’s nearly impossible to track, things can quickly get out of hand. 

Not only that, but enterprises evolve, and they sometimes need to remember to notify their customers. With an automated system to keep track of data compliances, this will never become a real problem. 

Humans make mistakes, and when it comes to regulations, there are no excuses, especially when you have a simple tool to fix the problem.

  1. Establishing responsibility

Another major issue regarding trust and trust-building lies in establishing the zone of responsibility. A business can only do so much to protect its users, clients, and customers.

Some people are reckless and don’t take their private security seriously. They come up with weak passwords, don’t pay too much attention to the networks they use, and don’t even care about who uses their devices. Worst of all, they fall for even the most obvious instances of phishing and click fraud.

When this comes back to haunt you, they accuse your business of losing their private data.

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While you cannot prevent unjust accusations, it’s important not to fall into pessimism or defeatism. You have to believe that the majority of your audience is reasonable. Therefore, you need to give them the benefit of the doubt and do your best to explain.

Educate your customers. 

Be transparent about what your job is and where your responsibility (and even your capabilities) to protect your data ends. Even better, tell them that if their data leaks on their end, you would be obliged (not just by law but by your own code of ethics) to disclose this information

Tell them that you’re doing your best to protect their data (the data that they’ve entrusted you with) but that your system is not perfect (no system is). If anything goes south, you should let them know as soon as possible. 

Also remind them that you’re not the only platform with this information and that if there’s a leak, it’s not necessarily your fault. Lastly, promise them that you’ll look into it (even if everything checks out on your part). 

  1. Using cookies the right way

In the past, the only way to gather information about customers was through surveys. You would ask them direct questions, and they would answer. This system had several problems.

First, many people refused to give the right answers. Some would just click randomly so that they could return to the page (if the survey was mandatory and kept them away from the rest of the content). In some scenarios, they would just leave your domain to avoid the survey and look for the service elsewhere (this is the worst-case scenario). 

If it were optional, many people would not have the time (or would not want to take the time) to answer these surveys truthfully. 

These are just some of the reasons why, in 2024, data will be collected via tools like WordPress cookies

The thing you need to keep in mind, however, is that customers need to explicitly agree to these cookies being stored in their browser cache. In the past, there were some scenarios under which consent was implied (unless stated otherwise). 

This was an underhanded tactic that relied on the fact that a lot of people just couldn’t be bothered to restrict cookies. Well, under CCPA and GDPR, this is no longer lawful. Now, customers and visitors have to consent to cookies being stored on their devices explicitly. 

This is good for the sake of transparency and because it gives your visitors the impression that they’re in control of their data. It’s their choice to make and they can always just walk away.

It’s also important to know about three different types of cookies: session cookies, persistent cookies, and third-party cookies. Each has a distinct purpose.

  1. People are more concerned with data privacy

In the past, there was a popular belief that no one ever reads privacy policies or terms of service. This is clearly not the case anymore. In fact, according to some of the latest stats, many users thoroughly read privacy policies in order to understand what they’re consenting to. 

At the same time, people understand that this is the way the modern world works. Namely, roughly 62% of Americans understand that they can’t go through a day without a company collecting data on them. 

At the same time, 37% of customers have terminated relationships with companies over data. Now, terminating relationships over data is a broad term, but seeing as how a large proportion of the general audience understands the need for data gathering, it’s likely that this happened due to the lack of transparency.

At the same time, customers want personalized shopping and browsing experience. They also understand that this is a compromise that they have to make. Therefore, roughly 58% of users say that they would be willing to share data if it means avoiding paying for online content. 

Data privacy is a sensitive topic, which makes it ideal for building a foundation for future trust

To make the long story short, you have to collect data. They have to consent to you collecting their data. If they don’t, they are free to go elsewhere, but then their data will be collected by this other business. The truth is that, in 2024, there’s no avoiding sharing your data with online entities. 

As a customer, you can only pick someone who seems trustworthy. As an organization, you need to earn this trust. The first step is disclosing all there is about data privacy. If you have to gather their data, be transparent about why and how you’re doing it. You would be surprised at just how much your audience understands.

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