Thanks to improvements in the scope and effectiveness of data
digitization, it’s a simple matter for organizations of all kinds to
build personal profiles based on individuals’ captured data. And this
goes beyond basic information such as name, age, and address; today,
nearly all forms of personal information exist digitally—from the
seemingly innocuous (such as interests and hobbies, buying preferences,
relationships, etc.) to the extremely private (such as social security
numbers, credit information, health-data, location, and movements,
In many cases, the information we share online, either knowingly or
otherwise, is used by machines to make them smarter; the puppy photo we
post on social media helps teach semi-intelligent algorithms to
recognize a puppy when it sees one. The searches we perform online teach
machines how to better understand and replicate human language.
However, regardless of how the data is being used, the fact that it
exists and is available to unknown users is becoming a major cause for
alarm. Customers (not to mention legislators) around the world are
beginning to demand that companies give the original data owners final
say in how their data is collected and used.
As such, those organizations that establish and follow healthy data
privacy policies are more able to establish trust with their customers.
At the same time, they eliminate the legal risks associated with
violating new and upcoming data privacy laws, standards, and
regulations. Facebook’s recent fine of $5 billion from the FTC is an
example of just how steep the penalties for violating these laws can be.