April 3, 2019

Digital Privacy and the GDPR

By Brandon Ferris, Marketing Manager

Digital Privacy and the GDPR Strategic Marketing

Technology is increasingly becoming an integral part of everyday life. Individuals and business continue to embrace new technology to schedule meetings, conduct research, market to their clients and prospects and much more.

However, 2018 was a significant year for breaches of digital privacy. Consider the following:

  • Large data breaches occurred, such as at Facebook, Panera Bread and MyHeritage
  • Google is terminating Google+ following massive data exposure
  • The European Union’s (EU) General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has rattled the roofs of many companies and their use of digital marketing tools

The public’s trust of digital technology has certainly plunged. In fact, user trust in Facebook has dropped by a staggering 66 percent since the events of Cambridge Analytica. Despite rising distrust in 2019, consumers will be increasing their adoption of technology—even as new threats to their privacy arise.

Influence of the GDPR in the U.S.

Our neighbors in the EU decided to crack down on privacy breaches by adopting the GDPR on April 14, 2016. The regulation addresses the personal data of any individual in the EU, including citizens and visitors the EU, regardless of whether the organization processing or controlling the data lives in the EU. The GDPR became effective May 25, 2018, leaving many U.S. businesses scrambling to comply with it.

In other words, the GDPR has far-reaching implications for U.S. businesses that market to, or monitor the behavior of, EU companies and customers. Many U.S. companies have made great strides to comply, but if your business has fallen behind, understand that the severe penalties can be as high as 4 percent of a company’s global annual revenue. By March 2019, the European Commission reported 95,000 complaints and 91 fines issued.

Want to learn more about GDPR compliance? Marcum’s Risk Advisory Services Group helps companies of all sizes stay in compliance with the latest regulations.

Companies here in the U.S. should be aware that the GDPR protects the following data:

  • Identity information (e.g., name, address, ID numbers)
  • Racial or ethnic information
  • Geolocation data (e.g., locations, IP addresses, website cookies)
  • Health and genetic data
  • Sexual orientation
  • Political preference

So how can you protect your business from noncompliance? Be sure to review your current marketing list for all EU contacts. You must receive consent that the contact wishes to receive your information. And sorry—pre-ticked boxes or inactivity doesn’t cut it. You should document that you have received consent before engaging in any marketing activities. One last thing—you’ll need to notify website visitors of your cookie policy and give users the choice to remove cookies.

Distrust in technology has not outweighed the convenience it provides. We’ll continue to welcome technology that allows us to become more efficient as marketers and helps us provide better service and products to our customers and clients.

The upcoming year will be exciting to watch from a digital privacy and security standpoint. The public will eventually need to decide where to draw the line when it comes to exchanging their personal information for convenience. Personalized experiences (which rely on personal data being collected) are now expected, and consumers are not yet to the threshold where they will forgo personalization. We think it’s going to be a big year for security and digital privacy, either way.

Interested in learning more about this blog? Our Strategic Marketing Group works with clients to ensure their digital marketing programs are in compliance with privacy regulations. Contact me at 440.459.5968, or email me at [email protected].

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