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The All-Seeing Eye: Why Data Privacy is More Important Than Ever

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In this day and age, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who can confidently say their data is completely secure. The sad truth is, very little of our personal data is safe from prying eyes, and this is something more and more people are becoming aware of.

For instance, you’ve probably had an experience where you looked something up on the internet and then got assaulted by targeted advertisements for the very thing you were looking up. How does this work, though?

The answer is cookies. These crumbs of data that are stored on your device are what enable websites to track your activity.

Initially, websites weren’t even required to inform you when installing cookies on your device. The landmark General Data Protection Regulation, passed by the EU and implemented in May 2018, made it mandatory for websites to be transparent about their data collection and purpose, resulting in those notifications you get asking you to accept or reject cookies when you go to a website.

Cookies, however, are just a drop in the ocean when talking about data privacy. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, describes the right to privacy as a basic human right, but the truth is most big tech corporations simply don’t care. Their argument is that we’ve already consented to their data policies. But, let’s be honest here—no one really reads through license agreements, do they?

They’re extremely drawn out and use complicated legal and technical jargon, and this plays into the hands of these corporations. They also argue that no one is being compelled to use their software and that we can always use an alternative if we’re unhappy with their policies, but that’s a moot point. No one should be expected to forfeit their privacy to use a product.

The data collected about an individual’s browsing habits can also be used to create a profile for advertising purposes, but this leads to yet another issue—not a single company, including today’s big tech companies, can say its data is completely safe. Data breaches still happen and compromise the personal data of millions, yet most companies simply view these breaches as ordinary setbacks.

The good news is more people are talking about data privacy, and some have even deleted their social media accounts. Whether this will impact how big tech views and handles our personal data, however, remains to be seen.

We at ManageEngine take data privacy very seriously and have done so before it became fashionable, politically correct, or legally binding to take such a position. We ask for only the least amount of information necessary, gathering only what we believe is essential for doing business or for the specific transaction at hand. In fact, we completely disable non-essential and intrusive third-party cookies from all our websites and products. You can even disable all cookies completely to prevent your browser from sending us any information.

To learn more about our privacy policy, click here.

Expert Speak

Hidden Champions: Behind These Popular Applications Are Hard Drives

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Written by Rainer W. Kaese, Senior Manager of Business Development Storage Products at Toshiba Electronics Europe
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How to Secure MSP Success Brick by Brick

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Cyber Security

Is Consent the Gateway to Ethical Data Usage Practices?

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Every tech company under the sun is grappling with data privacy and protection policies and laws. However, consent is crucial when it comes to data collection and processing. Having the user’s consent to use their data is imperative. While securing the data after collection is also important, using customer data without their consent causes more serious issues. Without obtaining consent from the user, any data that you use for your business falls under the unlawful use of data regulations.

Users of the well-known platform Glassdoor, which allows individuals to anonymously review their employers, allege that the site collected and linked their names to their profiles without their permission. Glassdoor users have expressed alarm, and the issue has been widely featured on social media and news-sharing sites. They fear that their anonymity could be compromised if data about them is collected and added to their profiles.

The issue here boils down to a single word: consent.

The gray area of obtaining consent
Organizations can knowingly or unknowingly exploit users’ personal data without proper knowledge of data privacy. It is not enough just to get consent from users; explicit consent is required. This includes ensuring the user selects checkboxes during the signup process, enters their email address, authorizes receiving marketing emails and newsletters, and grants the app permission to track user data in specific situations.

But when it comes to verbal consent, there is ambiguity. The GDPR accepts verbal consent but requires written or recorded proof of the consent given. The GDPR states that, “when requested by the data subject, the information may be provided orally, provided that the identity of the data subject is proven by other means.” Therefore, it is better to record or have written proof of verbal consent; one must not assume or misunderstand that verbal consent only includes oral consent.

Often, there is less visibility of data usage for customers. More often than not, customers do not know what they are giving consent for or how their data will be used. Let’s take the case of location data sharing.

Location data can show if someone visited an abortion clinic or a cancer treatment center. People usually want to keep this type of information private and not share it with companies or third parties. When consent is given without knowing what it is for, the act of giving or obtaining consent becomes meaningless.

Why consent is important in ethical data practices
Although you are legally required to obtain the user’s consent to process their data, there is also such a thing as the ethical use of data. When you take measures to protect your customers’ data beyond what the law requires, it promotes trust among your customers.

People value privacy and appreciate brands that prioritize data privacy. Let’s say a consumer is given the option to choose between two brands: one with no privacy features and another that advocates for privacy with built-in privacy features. Which do you think the customer will choose? Obviously, the latter.

Understanding a company’s data privacy policy is crucial to 85% of consumers—even before they make a purchase, a global study determined. Equally as important, 40% of individuals have changed brands after discovering that a company failed to protect customer data adequately, according to the McKinsey Global Survey on Digital Trust.

This is why tech companies go out of their way to demonstrate the privacy features they offer and how user consent is prioritized in these features.

In a way, customers prioritizing consent compels companies to integrate ethical data privacy policies into their systems. But it’s time companies realize that consent is the backbone of data privacy regulations and take customer consent seriously, not just to avoid hefty fines, but to also value the customer’s choice and their right to privacy.

A final word
Organizations worldwide are facing issues with data privacy. What is important when trying to protect your customers’ data is to realize the role customer consent plays. This helps organizations develop features and draft policies with the customer’s consent in mind and to effectively communicate to the customers why they are seeking consent. Without this step, data privacy becomes compromised. So, both organizations and customers need to grasp why consent matters and advocate for the ethical processing of data.

ManageEngine is a division of Zoho Corporation that provides comprehensive on-premises and cloud-native IT and security operations management solutions for global organizations and managed service providers. ManageEngine strongly believes in privacy by design and continuously advocates for user privacy. Established and emerging enterprises—including nine of every 10 Fortune 100 organizations—rely on ManageEngine’s real-time IT management tools to ensure the optimal performance of their IT infrastructure. Learn more about ManageEngine’s comprehensive suite of IT management solutions here.

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