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“Freedom consists not in doing what we like, but in having the right to do what we ought.” – Pope John Paul II. Sometimes we need to look at the past to recast our future. This is especially true when it comes to data privacy and the need to protect our data (consumer data), an important issue society is struggling with right now.

We’re at a tipping point between government regulation and technology data protection structures and standards. Do we self-organize or wait for laws?

Congress has recently demonstrated a poor understanding of how the Internet works, especially when it comes to platforms, mobile, data and personalization. It gives little confidence that appropriate regulation can or should come from Washington.

I think it’s time for the technology community, Localytics included, to acknowledge that it’s on us. So how can we start framing the discussion and gaining stakeholders for change?

The Future of Mobile is Real Personalization and that Requires a New Standard

There are a whole class of technology companies that interact with consumer data but don’t have a direct relationship with consumers. For too long, some companies in this position have had a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy when it comes to data being collected. It’s time for that to change.

Why? Because of trust.

Our whole digital life as a society is based on trust, particularly when it comes to mobile. We all rely on mobile for everything from navigation and communication, to dating, hailing taxis, booking flights telemedicine and more. Mobile is shifting from “occupying our time” to really a “remote control” to make our lives easier. We absolutely need personalization for this next big shift.

84% of marketers agree that the true potential of personalization has not been realized yet. To create the personalized experiences from which we will benefit, the technology companies that support us need data. Consumers have knowingly (or unknowingly in some cases) provided that data with the trust that it will not be misused, shared or sold to a third party. Recent events have threatened this trust. Without consumer trust, the promise of personalization – unique content that is delivered with pinpoint accuracy and relevance – falls down.

The technology industry needs to ask ourselves “What would I do if this were my son’s or daughter’s information? How would I ensure its protection?” We must have tougher conversations, challenge ourselves more and invest real expense to support data privacy.

Today, we are drawing a line in the sand, and we encourage other vendors to follow suit with our “Three P’s” – Principles, Protection, & Progress.

Principles

Technology and systems to protect consumer data are great and necessary, but they mean nothing if a company’s core principles are off the mark when it comes to privacy. It’s important that consumers and brands understand what a company behind a service is going to do with their data. I believe this is a big part of why Facebook has faced so much backlash in recent weeks. They certainly have a great technology that many people benefit from, but it’s not surprising that consumers are questioning the company’s core principles.

In our case, our mission is clear. Our core purpose and principles are focused on helping customers personalize mobile experiences for their users. Consumer data is used to drive that personalization. We are not in the business of monetizing customer data. We don’t sell data. And we never share consumer data with third parties.

Protection

Companies need to build more controls and capabilities into their platforms as well as products to ensure brands can better meet consumer expectations around privacy and protection. At Localytics, we have updated our systems to better support GDPR requirements and we’ve made improvements as to how we handle personal data. The latest version of our SDK also helps customers more easily honor user requests to opt out of data collection or to have their data deleted. Beyond that though, we’re rethinking how we design our platform so fewer things are vulnerable for developer errors.

We are also conducting privacy reviews with our customers to help identify and flag potential exposure risks related to the sharing of any personally identifiable information (PII) or protected information, and then developing remediation plans when needed. And, Localytics is building a dedicated privacy services practice that will help enterprises ensure that robust privacy approvals are integrated into their apps’ onboarding processes. This starts with enabling enterprises to better explain to end users why they collect data and how it will be handled, but we will also assist enterprises with best practices for all aspects of data transparency and privacy.

Progress

Brands should want to partner with technology providers that are going “above and beyond” when it comes to data privacy. A progressive, proactive approach to protecting consumer information must become the new norm for technology providers. That means new privacy policies, new features and functions, new terms of service, new SLAs, etc. that put consumer trust first. Complying with current regulations like GDPR is just table stakes. A total mindset shift is necessary in order for real progress to be gained. We must take a more proactive role to ensure privacy rights are respected. Progress has risk, but this is the right path for any technology company that touches user data.

It’s not hyperbole to say that there’s a grand reckoning underway that will reshape our industry. We need to remove the complexities and solve the problem collaboratively — or else we jeopardize the promise of digital marketing and personalized experiences. Trust is at stake, and it will be hard to recover if that trust is irreparably broken. The onus of the work to shore up consumer trust is on us. We want to be part of the conversation and part of the solution. Join us.