The Business Case for Privacy

Forrester released the results of a survey in an report called What’s On Web Analytics Users’ Minds? The report mirrors a lot of the issues we see here at Yahoo! (instrumentation concerns, multiple sources of “truth”, no silver bullet for counting users) but there’s one sentence that jumped out at me – this was regarding privacy concerns:

One-third of online consumers say they’d purchase more over the Internet if they didn’t feel that their privacy was being compromised.

If ever there was a reason to get in front of the online industry’s privacy issues, it’s not the PR value — it’s the economic benefit! It’s one thing to say “we collect information about you” but it’s another to put policies and systems in place that ensure enforcement of data security and engender trust in the marketplace.

I have a feeling that the privacy breaches we’re reading about (and the ones we’re not reading about!) are going to hit fever pitch, and the subsequent government reaction will result in business burdens that at least mirror or even surpass that of Sarbanes-Oxley. Like SOX, it will mean rebuilding our systems. A whole new privacy compliance industry will emerge. I doubt we can do much about it, except to prepare for it. Meanwhile — if raising the level of trust in the marketplace will result in increased sales … why not start now?

The Business Case for Privacy