Best Practices for Data Privacy in Digital Marketing

Data privacy is a growing concern for people who share their personal information with brands. Regulations have been introduced to give users more control over their data. Companies are expected to handle user data ethically and securely to maintain customer trust. Marketers should prioritise transparency, consent, and data protection best practices to achieve a balance between personalised experiences and customer privacy.

By doing so, they can ensure that they are handling user data in a responsible and ethical manner.

Key Data Privacy Concerns

Consumer mistrust around data privacy arises from a few key issues in current digital marketing practices:

  1. Ubiquitous collection of personal consumer data across digital touchpoints with insufficient transparency or consent. This includes cookies, browsing history, purchase history, loyalty programs, and third-party data sharing.
  2. Extensive tracking of consumers across devices and channels to create elaborate user profiles. This influences not only marketing but has implications for identity theft, fraud risk, and information security.
  3. Lack of adequate disclosure around how collected data will be leveraged by brands or shared with partners. Consumers want more visibility into data handling.
  4. Little active choice or control for consumers around how their information gets used once entered or gathered digitally, especially when shared with multiple parties.
  5. Insufficient safeguards around breach prevention, detection and response. Brands holding significant consumer data assets introduce cybersecurity concerns.


The Privacy Act 1988

The Privacy Act 1988 is Australia’s key data protection law governing the collection, use, disclosure, safeguarding and management of personal information by both government and private organisations according to standards outlined through the Australian Privacy Principles.

These principle-based laws mandate transparency around data collection/use, obtaining consumer consent for sensitive information, limiting use to original purposes, securely storing personal data, and compliance in digital marketing activities like online behavioural advertising, which utilise extensive consumer data.

Best Practices

With that in mind, it is important to implement the following practices when conducting business and handling personal data:

Transparent Data Collection & Use Policies

Digital marketers should create clear and conspicuous privacy notices and consent protocols that provide consumers with visibility into what personal data is collected, used, shared, and stored. These descriptions should be easy to understand per the APP transparency principles. Explicit consent should be obtained wherever possible for sensitive information use. Third-party exchanges should also be disclosed.


Enabling Consumer Data Rights & Preferences

Entities are required to provide individuals with access to their personal profiles as well as the ability to make corrections under the Privacy Act. Marketers should also develop preference dashboards for users to enable them to manage their data in one place. These tools should allow individuals to opt out of certain processing practices such as sharing partnerships, contest registrations, or email lists. Additionally, they should be able to set retention limits and submit requests to delete data that is not required for primary service provisions. By providing these tools, people can take control of their data.


Responsible Data Retention & Deletion

To comply with regulations such as the APPs and support data minimisation principles, marketers need to establish strict retention schedules for personal information. These schedules should be based on legitimate business needs and include appropriate review triggers, expiry timelines, and workflow procedures. It is imperative to dispose of consumer-related data records permanently and securely in accordance with allowable guidelines. Avoid retaining data beyond the originally specified purposes without renewed consent.


Rigorous Security Safeguards

Although data protection required by law through Privacy Shield schemes is in place, marketers need to invest in cybersecurity and privacy-enhanced system design to prevent unauthorised access breaches of consumer data caused by both internal and external threats. To achieve this, they should implement layered administrative, technical, and physical controls following standards like ISO 27001. These controls should include securely storing identity data, authenticating all access attempts, and encryption/tokenisation to make elements unusable to unauthorised parties.


What Should We Do?

As business owners, we have a responsibility to our customers to uphold trust and integrity. This includes addressing data privacy concerns through both responsible compliance and proactive protection efforts that prioritise transparency and individual rights. We can achieve this by committing to privacy awareness within our organisation, conducting audits to identify risks, holding executives accountable for data stewardship, allocating adequate budgets, and providing training to all staff interacting with user data.

The digital landscape is constantly changing, but our moral compass must persist unwaveringly.

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