Compliance Management, Privacy

Privacy – It’s everyone’s responsibility

Privacy. The word takes on different meanings depending on the person to with whom you’re speaking. Given our ever intense usage of social media or our increasing willingness to offer personal details in exchange for rewards and discounts or to download some hip, free app, the meaning has generally changed over the last several years.

Whatever the case, for me, holding fast to the privacy of some of this life’s experiences is a good thing. Not everything needs to be chronicled, photographed and shared in a public forum – closed to “just friends” (which often equates to a wider net than a lot of people remember when surfing their feeds).

Yet, here we are. So, why then, with such seeming openness about the details of our lives do we sometimes register shock or anger when these are shared?

Sure, there are organizations that reportedly have been downright dishonest about how information we share is used and further disseminated to others. And let’s not forget that data aggregators who amass details of private lives from publicly available records, screen scraping and other means are making a killing selling off pieced-together profiles. Some of us, though, still want a bit of control, some aspects about our lives to remain ours.

Let’s be real, though: We can’t have it both ways. We can’t share info about ourselves on social media or give it away to various organizations for free stuff, discounts, membership programs, and believe responsibility only rests on third parties to act as good shepherds of our personally identifiable information. We ourselves must exert some control, too. Will this solve everything? Of course not, but it’s a start.

On the flipside, organizations have to do their parts too. Privacy policies and to what extent we are giving consent for entities to use our information should be made succinctly clear and straight-forward to end-users before and after signup. In other words, there shouldn’t be any obfuscation on what agreeing with an organization’s privacy policies actually means to one’s privacy. And, when it comes to data aggregators, likely more legal controls will have to be considered in the near future. Will these fix the means by which these companies cull and share profiles with others? Not completely, but they’ll hopefully set more helpful legal parameters by which these entities operate. And security officers and privacy leaders at companies need to be simpatico and find support from their executive suite to safeguard customers’ private information. On that front, we’re probably still a long way off given our current state of affairs, but we’ve made some progress over the years; we have to keep at it.

There’s more, of course, but the point here is privacy and security are one and companies do have a vested interest in protecting our deets. As such, we have our own roles to play in how our privacy is impacted by our decisions.

Illena Armstrong is VP, editorial of SC Magazine.

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