The issue of sufficiently protecting customer data is often talked about in the business world, and the debate over what is enough and what is too much is often difficult to settle on. But are you doing enough to protect your customers’ data?
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has expressed concerns that companies are not doing enough to protect their customers’ data and suggest that businesses should do more to ensure that customer data is sufficiently looked after. This concern arises after recent research shows that the majority (77%) of the public are “fairly to very concerned” that businesses are not treating their personal information with the correct precautions.
What’s more 67% also think that, in some cases, companies request personal information that is not actually necessary for the service that they are providing. It is also significant that 57% of those who partook in the ICO’s Annual Track survey in September 2014 are worried that companies are passing, or even selling, their data on to other organisations without their permission.
Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner, does say that ‘the vast majority of companies are meeting the letter of the law’ when it comes to protecting their customers’ data. Nonetheless, figures still show that most customers are worried that their data isn’t being handled responsibly. As a result businesses may suffer too, as customers have less confidence in them.
In response to this high level of concern, the Information Commissioner’s Office has launched an initiative to help settle the minds of the public. They describe this new plan as “a clear course for changing times” and it will run from now until 2018. However, the ICO does suggest that businesses themselves can take steps “to prepare for the future regulatory landscape” that will come as a result of the new plans. They also suggest that businesses should be motivated by the recent research to address customer concerns.
Despite the inevitably positive outcome of the ICO’s new plan, Christopher Graham does acknowledge that businesses could face challenges in gaining the trust of customers. The level to which businesses are open about their systems to customers, and how much they have the right to keep information private is just one of these issues.
Graham admits that “these decisions are not straightforward and are sometimes controversial” so the process won’t necessarily be easy, especially because they are accountable to Parliament and the courts should they do anything wrong.
Drones and other forms of emerging surveillance technology, such as wearable video cameras are just one of the other issues that concern the public, and the ICO are aware that there may be problems with these. They advise that these new technologies are to be used appropriately, and only when completely necessary.
In order to ensure that you have the full trust of your customers, you should try to take every step possible to reassure them that you are handling their data safely and appropriately.
[Photo Credit: BobMical ]