For over a decade and a half, we have ignored surveys about Privacy… back in 1999,  the AT&T survey Beyond Concern: Understanding Net Users’ Attitudes About Online Privacy found “87% stated they are concerned about threats to their personal privacy while online“.  Today the findings have not improved, from the US to Canada where “nine in 10 Canadians were concerned about privacy” and the UK where “the 2015 edition of the TRUSTe Consumer Confidence Index confirmed that concern about online privacy is increasing – 92% of Internet users are worried about their privacy when surfing the net and concern is on the rise“.

The 2016 Internet Trends report by KPCB reinforced the concern:

  • global internet users @ 3B
  • 4 billion data records breached globally since 2013” and
  •  “74% have limited their online activity in the last year due to Privacy concerns

What’s worse is, because we have ignored the Privacy concerns for so long now, we are now starting to vote with our feet… according to data collected for the NTIA in 2015 by the U.S. Census Bureau “45% of online households said their concerns about security and privacy stopped them from conducting financial transactions, buying goods or services, posting on social networks, or expressing opinions on controversial or political issues via the Internet.

It would seem that with the abundance of Data Protection legislation around the world, the problem is therefore one of security – i.e. it’s an issue of protecting data.  This is a fallacy.  Just because you can say that you are compliant with Data Protection regulations, does not mean that you are adequately addressing our concerns about online Privacy.  Not only that, there is a tremendous rise in costs for implementing security and cyber insurance measures to counter the Hacking Economy, never mind the average costs of $7m in dealing with data breaches.

Andrew G Haldane, the Chief Economist to the Bank of England in his Great Divide speech provides inspired insight in summing up the overall risk to the global economy very effectively – there is a great divide between the silent majority who are no longer using the internet and the vocal minority of businesses who continue to insist their model is right and consistently fail to identify with the silent majority… Haldane emphasises trust:

Evidence has emerged, both micro and macro, to suggest trust may play a crucial role in value creation.  At the micro level, there is now ample evidence the degree of trust or social capital within a company contributes positively to its value creation capacity.  At the macro level, there is now a strong body of evidence, looking across a large range of countries and over long periods of time, that high levels of trust and co-operation are associated with higher economic growth.  Put differently, a lack of trust jeopardises one of finance’s key societal functions – higher growth.

The problem is not about security (and data protection) – the problem is about trust and Privacy, and the fact that our private data is online… if private data were offline, there would be no problem.  Therefore, taking private data offline is the solution.

But it’s only part of the solution.  Because the internet needs to continue to grow, organisations will need private data from time to time to allow transactions to occur.  And, this is not an alien concept to us users either… according to a Rock Health survey, “90% agree they should be in control of who has access to their health data“, and according to Pew Research Centre surveys, we “also value having the ability to share confidential matters with another trusted person.  Nine-in-ten (93%) adults say this ability is important to them.

The options that address both above requirements (taking private data offline, whilst giving individuals their custodial control to able to share it online with whom, when, and where the user chooses) are limited.

  1. do nothing – it’s always an option worth considering… do nothing is tantamount to saying, “carry on what you’ve been doing for the past 15 years.”  Just spending more on security, or proving you are compliant with Data Protection legislation, or taking out cyber-insurance, whilst all necessities, will not fix the problem, as evidenced by the issue that Privacy remains just as high a concern as it was back in 1999.  “Do nothing” is not an option.
  2. revert to pre-internet days – drastic as that might sound, that’s precisely what 45% of online households are already doing when they said their concerns about security and privacy stopped them from conducting financial transactions, buying goods or services via the internet!  Organisations cannot afford to allow this to continue given the enormous investment that has been made in digital, cloud, online strategies.  “Revert to pre-internet days” is not an option.
  3. transfer online private data to LifeBank – essentially this means giving private data back to your customers and your employees, and removing it completely from your online or cloud systems.  Then both customers and employees will not be concerned that their private data is online anymore, trust will be restored.

As Haldane put it, “So a lack of trust in finance potentially hobbles both economic growth and financial stability.  That lack of trust is the mirror-image of the perception gap between the financial sector and wider society, the Great Divide.  The Great Divide matters because it signals a pronounced and protracted erosion of social capital. It puts finance on notice for losing its social licence. And, unaddressed, that jeopardises future wealth and well-being.

By restoring trust and giving individuals back their Privacy, the online economy promises to revive.  By ignoring the concern of trust and Privacy, we fail, spectacularly.

LifeBank provides a Privacy Audit that reviews the risk of this Privacy issue to your business.  LifeBank helps you consider the options and alternatives for a roadmap that focuses on rebuilding trust and resolving the number 1 concern of Privacy.  And LifeBank will guide you on every step of the way.  Nobody takes Privacy more seriously.

Email info@lifebanksystems.com today to start the discussion.