Until fairly recently, there wasn't a law about sharing personal information. Alan Chapell, president at Chapell & Associates, is focused on trying to get companies to do the right thing when it comes to their customers. At the iMedia Breakthrough Summit in Austin, Texas, he explained that there is an ROI to persuading companies, and it's about leading it, not bleeding it. In other words, the game needs to change, as right now, privacy rules are focused more on control than actually protecting consumer privacy.
The No. 1 rule in digital privacy? Do not touch Personally Identifiable Information (PII). But there are two arguments against that ruleset, said Chapell. One is about privacy itself, and one is more of a business-side argument. This outdated rule came about over 15 years ago, after two companies merged and privacy advocates went into a panic about what would happen to PII when they combined information. The focus was on reigning in ad networks and creating a model where they made a lot of money off of media.
But this model has changed. In today's marketplace, advertisers have more control, and tech companies have taken on more of a service-provider role. And ad serving data is now used to create utility -- just look at Facebook and Google. Our information is collected and used all over the place, from email addresses to phone numbers to Twitter handles. And the amount of information we share with these large platforms is staggering.
So if the big guys are using PII for targeting, shouldn't this be an issue? The FTC, who should be the primary regulator here, hasn't said anything on the issue in many years. And the European Union isn't focusing on it either. A change has to be made.
PII is critical to structuring data in an Internet of Things world. Connecting data silos and maintaining platform control are just two considerations when it comes to changing what we do with information. The battle for control must be begin with brands becoming their own platform.