How online businesses can assure customers of their privacy

14th Apr 2017
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Online privacy has become a grave concern over the past few years. With security breaches at tech giants like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and Apple and reports of mass surveillance by government agencies, internet users are more guarded about the data they share online than ever before. But businesses still need to collect their customers' data – targeted notifications and advertisements cannot function without at least some data being logged. However, with users and lawmakers becoming more bullish about the storage and dissemination of their confidential information, it is paramount for businesses to implement the best security measures in order to protect their customers’ privacy. Here are five ways for a business to assure its customers that their online privacy is not in jeopardy:

Image : shutterstock

Image : shutterstock

State exactly what data you'll be collecting

The first step to building a good relationship with customers is honesty. Tell them exactly what data you'll be collecting – things like location and browsing behaviour – and why. Also, only collect the data that you've mentioned and sought permission for. Collect any more behind-the-scenes and you could land in serious trouble if things go wrong.

Transparent privacy policy

Not too many people bother reading the privacy policy, but it is pertinent that every online business has a clear and transparent one. The privacy policy should explicitly mention how the data is being collected, where and for how long it's being stored, and with whom it's being shared. A detailed privacy policy that clearly mentions the usage and ownership of data being shared can go a long way to building customer loyalty.

Give customers access to privacy controls

Allowing customers to pick and choose the data they want to share with the service provider is a great way to build trust. Customers should be accorded the option to opt out of sharing data like contacts and search history unless it is essential for the functioning of the app or website.

Be careful with third-party sharing

Sharing customers’ data with third parties is arguably the biggest breach of trust a business can perpetrate. When a customer agrees to share their data with a business, they’re not automatically consenting to that data being shared with other entities. So, if you do have to share their data, inform them and request permission in advance to give them the option of opting out.

Allow customers to opt out at any time

Providing customers with the option of opting out is an essential part of assuring them that their online privacy is in the best hands: theirs. Customers should be given the option to deactivate their accounts at any time they may wish to do so. Also, this step should involve the deletion of all their associated information from the business’ servers.

In today's world, with digital privacy being such a contentious topic, online businesses can no longer hide behind vague privacy policies. Taking responsibility for how, when, what, and why customer data is being collected, and giving the customers control over it, is the best way for online businesses to gain their customers’ trust and loyalty.

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