Allens urges companies to rise above data backlash


By Dylan Bushell-Embling
Friday, 09 November, 2018


Allens urges companies to rise above data backlash

Despite a growing consumer backlash over businesses’ use of their personal data, international law firm Allens is urging organisations to weather the storm and embrace the value of data.

In a new report, Allens explores the emerging negative trend in consumer confidence in data use following high-profile scandals including the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting affair, as well as the consumer campaign for individuals to opt out of the government’s My Health Record system.

The report found that among the companies on the ASX200, around half have security polices that have not been updated in the past two years, and around 70% do not have technology and data experience on their boards.

It outlines five steps that companies should take in order to effectively balance privacy with effective data use.

The first step is to create organisation-wide consensus on principles for good data governance. Next, organisations should design a comprehensive map of data use cases at the organisation to ensure transparency and help manage risk.

Third, organisations should seek to clearly communicate to consumers the benefits of sharing data. Fourth, policies and practices should be regularly updated. Finally, organisations should ensure they are complying with best practice cybersecurity to help build and maintain consumer trust.

The report urges organisations to move beyond the backlash and continue to leverage the considerable value of data by implementing well-governed, transparent and ethical data practices.

“While it’s understandable that organisations would take a cautious approach to data in the current environment, it’s important that they do not stop or slow investment in data use — the benefits are too great,” commented Gavin Smith, report co-author and head of Allens’ TMT practice.

“Instead, organisations need to invest time and money in building new policies that go beyond pure legal compliance to prioritise trust, transparency and control for consumers.”

This should include a robust, standardised data governance framework that is endorsed at the highest levels of the organisation, he said.

One initiative with the potential to improve consumer confidence in organisations’ use of data is the new Fair Data mark, which has been recently introduced in Australia by the Australian Market and Social Research Society (AMSRS).

The Fair Data mark is designed to give consumers peace of mind while providing their personal data to businesses, by introducing an accreditation system for companies handling customers’ personal data.

To qualify for a mark, organisations must be independently assessed and proven to be compliant with 10 principles, which comply with the Australian Privacy Principles (APPs), as well as the EU GDPR, the AMSRS Code of Professional Behaviour and industry ISO standards.

Image credit: ©iStockphoto.com/Paul Fleet

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