Thursday, February 02, 2006

Shameless

I'll begin this dialog with a shameless bit of self promotion, but one that conveys the motivation behind this effort.

Last May I was interviewed for an article in the Peppers & Rogers newsletter Inside 1to1: Privacy on the importance of communicating issues related to privacy. In the article I made the point that, like a nervous parent addressing the birds and the bees with a child, many companies are uncomfortable with raising the issue of privacy protection with their customers. They put it off and hope that things will take care of themselves.

Unfortunately, as with sex, obtaining an education on the street may have dire consequences. And the regret of many a parent is that they didn't have the first conversation, because the one they are now forced to have is a lot more painful.

Would you prefer that your customers learn what steps you are taking to protect them, or hear sensational stories of credit fraud and identity theft, hackers and spyware, and become fearful of building a more trusting (read: profitable) relationship with you?

Communication is the key to establishing a trusting customer relationship, whether that customer is a grandmother living in some dusty Midwestern town, or a Fortune 500 corporation in the heart of New York City.

In the coming weeks I'll revisit some of the data breaches that have happened since ChoicePoint to see what we can learn from those cases, and I'll track other events as they happen to offer analysis and recommendations in as close to real time as a blog allows.

I suspect there will be no lack of examples. The Privacy Rights Clearinghouse has tracked more than 100 privacy breaches, exposing more than 50 million files containing personally identifiable information since ChoicePoint.

The hits just keep on coming.

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