When you visit a company or e-commerce website today, a pop-up will appear, asking your permission about collecting your personal data. If you’re not tech-savvy, chances are you’ll just click “I accept.” After all, it doesn’t do anything strange or unsafe. In fact, it enhances your web-browsing experience. The website can “remember” your activity so that when you come back on the site, it’ll show you the content you’re looking for.
But this web feature is also met with concern. Many people think that by allowing websites to collect their data, they also let the internet control them. And in a way, they have a point. The internet uses our personal data to tailor our web-browsing experience. For businesses, this gives them the advantage of selling to a customer exactly what they want. As a result, that customer would be more enticed to spend.
This ability of websites makes businesses turn customers into loyal ones without even interacting with them in person. But the people’s concerns go beyond businesses running them dry. They’re also worried about the security of their Social Security numbers, device IDs, web browser cookies, and more.
Why Businesses Collect Personal Data
Businesses collect personal data to strengthen their marketing strategies. For example, if a business says it wants to know your location, it’s doing so for the benefit of its location-based marketing plan. What the company website does is identify your device’s IP address. It then builds a personalized data profile. The business will use this information to target other users’ devices with hyperpersonalized, relevant advertising.
Businesses also sell personal data to help advertisers target users who may find their ads relevant. Customers have nothing to worry about, though. As terrifying as it sounds, collecting and selling personal data doesn’t risk anyone’s privacy. Businesses and advertisers aren’t allowed to use customers’ personal data for their own personal gain. They strictly use the data for marketing purposes.
Ways Small Businesses Can Protect Personal Data
Since small businesses have tighter budgets, customers are probably worried that they’re not as capable as big businesses of ensuring data security. But small businesses aren’t inferior in this department at all. With the right tools, they can also secure personal data as strongly as the industry leaders do.
Here are the ways a small business can protect their customers’ personal data:
They Abide By the Law
Governments are getting involved in the calls for privacy protection. One of the most prominent laws passed related to this is the GDPR. It stands for General Data Protection Regulation, and it was passed by the EU on May 25, 2018.
The GDPR applies to businesses outside the EU as well. It dictates that companies should exercise lawfulness, fairness, and transparency when collecting data. It requires companies — and all websites, for that matter — to use data for the purposes they’ve explicitly stated. Simply put, if a brand says they need someone’s email address for sending newsletters and special updates only, then they must not use the email address for purposes outside of that.
Small businesses can use a reliable GDPR checklist when devising ways to collect and use personal data. That way, they’ll always abide by the law and gain their customers’ trust.
They Use the Cloud
Using the cloud instead of hard drives allows businesses to boost the privacy of their data pool. One example of cloud-based software is Dropbox. Drop is a Software as a Service (SaaS) tool, which means it uses the internet browser to deliver applications. In layman’s terms, it allows users to benefit from a software without downloading it. This ability enables businesses to safeguard their data from prying eyes. If a hacker ever tries to steal a company laptop, for example, the user of that laptop doesn’t have to worry about losing their Dropbox files. They can just use another device and access Dropbox from there.
They Disclose Privacy Policies
Even if no customer likely takes time to read lengthy privacy policies, businesses disclose them anyway. It is crucial to do so for transparency and accountability. Privacy policies address common customer concerns, such as who sees or uses their personal data, for example. It also gives customers something to use as evidence if the business fails to protect their data. Lastly, it allows customers to refuse to provide their data in case they find the policies questionable.
Though tech companies maintain that users’ personal data are safe with them, the concerns will always be there. Hence, businesses extended courtesy and disclosed how and why they collect data. It may not lead to the entire public’s security, but it’s better than surprising everyone with a major data breach.