Does your privacy policy inspire trust?

Jan 16, 2020

Ahhh, a cute cat or dog always catches people’s attention.

Sadly the same cannot always be said about a privacy policy; most of the time people just don’t read them and in the new era of data privacy, you want people to engage with your brand, to trust you and have confidence in giving you their personal information.

What makes you trust a brand? Is it transparency, loyalty, peace of mind, all, or none of these?

  • Your brand helps you to keep your business in the minds of potential customers and build consumer loyalty across your business.Something that makes you memorable for what you do.It represents who you are, what you believe in and how you want to be perceived by your audience.

  • Trust is not something that is given, it must be earned through hard work, results and integrity. Such integrity might be a qualification or testimonials for example.

In the modern digital age almost everything a business does will revolve around personal data and with the introduction of the GDPR, the individuals whose data we hold are more aware of this than ever before. They must trust that your brand will handle that information ethically, lawfully and in line with their expectation, and your privacy policy should be the place where individuals can get that reassurance.

Building trust and confidence in your brand is an investment in your business. Imagine for a moment, two identical Social Media platforms, both collecting your name, email address and interests from activity upon those and other websites.

One provides a simple privacy policy which tells you where they store your information, who has access to it, why they need it and how long they’ll keep it.

  • Most importantly, it tells you how to contact them and change how your information is used.
  • The second has no privacy policy at all, you give them your information and that’s it, no control, no choice.

Which one would you be more likely to trust?

A well-presented privacy policy will be a powerful tool that helps to cultivate that trust and confidence in your brand’s use of information, and will help set your brand apart from your competitors.

Your customers want to know why they should trust your business, over your closest competitor(s)

Through the introduction of legislation such as the GDPR (and other comparable legislation globally), consumers are becoming more aware than ever before of their data protection rights. The information they willingly volunteer is an increasingly valuable asset to your business, and deserves to be respected.

With some high-profile data breaches occurring in the last 18 months, the fundamental principle of the law aside, your customers now want to know what personal information you collect from or about them, how you use it and how you keep it secure.

The potential penalties for a data breach are significant to any business, particularly now they’re based directly on your turnover, but turning a blind-eye to the law could lead to a much more damaging loss of trust, that will be hugely difficult to regain.

You might be reading this thinking “It’ll never happen to our business” or “we’re secure and we do everything in line with policies we obtained/downloaded/were given [delete as appropriate]” but consider the December 2019 enforcement action by the Information Commissioners Office.

Doorstep Dispensaree Ltd were having a routine audit, for an unrelated purpose, when those auditors spotted some patient records insecurely stored. After this was reported to the ICO, an investigation was made and resulting in a significant fine, but ask yourself this . . .

How can any medical professional’s office, or patient ever trust having sensitive personal data sent to this business for the fulfilment of prescriptions in future?

A significant take-away point of the above case is that Doorstep Dispensaree had used “stock” templates for GDPR compliance but failed to customise them specifically for their business.

Let’s be realistic, no privacy policy will ever protect against such events occurring however the process of creating one will force you to review every aspect of everything you do with personal data, such that you can be transparent and tell people how you collect it, store it, use it and keep it safe, along with how they can exercise their rights over how that data is used.

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