What has the Latest Facebook Scandal Taught us about Data Security?

Mike Taylor | 2 May 2018
Latest Facebook Scandal

Have you ever been scrolling through your Facebook feed to come across and liked a photo of your old roommate with his girlfriend posing a top of Mt Maunganui, only to find that you’re bombarded with online ads showcasing local tourist attractions? Ahh, data – You wonderful thing!

I say this, as the world watches Zuckerberg being hauled to the principal’s office to answer questions regarding the mishandling of millions of people’s data. Which has all stemmed from the harvesting and selling of roughly 50 million people’s personal information by Cambridge Analytica.

It’s no secret, we are a lot looser with our personal information these days, we give it away at every turn. Whether it’s signing up for a chance to win a trip to Hawaii or signing up to Spotify with your Facebook profile. In a fast past world, we are becoming increasingly desensitized to the secrecy of our data, and businesses recognise this. As we give away our information in the hope of winning an all expenses trip or in order to hear the latest Foo Fighters track, we need to be aware that this information isn’t always used just once or twice, or even for the use we originally thought.

As a digital agency, we understand the power that data possess for our clients. In our world, good, hygienic data is power, and ultimately, revenue for our clients. As Zuck sits there sweating bullets, it has brought to a head, the conversion that has been had for years. What responsibilities do businesses have around the collection, storage and use of their customers’ private data.

As this becomes more and more of a conversation and the grey-haired politicians of Washington are trying to understand how the internet works. Businesses are being urged to review and structure their policies and practices around data collection.

It’s a very real discussion we are having with a lot of our clients.

Firstly, get your policies in line with the legal requirements of the markets you operate in. This can be tricky for larger, multinational companies, but governments are starting to take notice of this issue. The first domino to fall was the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). I anticipate the guidelines around data collection and sharing in this bill, will greatly shape what other nations do. In fact, the New Zealand government has already upgraded the Privacy Bill, and it aligns fairly closely with the GDPR, coming to you in July 2019.

Secondly, businesses that use cookies or pixels to monitor and collect customer data will most likely be required to disclose this practice in the near future. Apple has already taken the proactive step of creating a nice, little icon to show users when their own first-party apps require your information. In a similar move, Zuck has announced third parties using their advertising platform will be required to inform users when their websites or apps are using cookies. Don’t be surprised if this becomes a legal requirement in the near future.

Thirdly, I believe businesses and business owners are going to be held to a higher standard regarding how they handle data. Who knows, it could end up similar to workplace Health and Safety regulations. Where owners are liable, or at least somewhat responsible for the safety of customers or clients personal data.

Lastly, don’t think this is just an internet issue. We need to think about we manage data in our online CRM’s or cloud systems. An unlocked door in your office, or a disgruntled employee with access to your data, if you’re not secure, could download your customer info onto a data stick and take it somewhere if you don’t have the right security protocols in place.

In a day and age where we want everything to make our lives easy, smart brands have cottoned onto this and are using it to their advantage. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of businesses are using this to make the consumer experience and customers lives easier, or adding fantastic value to their users, great!

However, businesses need to ensure this data is being collected and used in an ethical and transparent manner. The relationship between you and your customers is one of your most valued assets. Old Buffet comes to mind… “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”.