A Marketing Expert Thinks Business should Take Privacy Seriously – and that You Don’t Understand how Your Privacy is Being Violated

I don’t know enough about marketing to know who is a real marketing expert, but Jonathan Salem Baskin seems to be a big deal in the marketing business.  He writes for Forbes and Advertising Age and consults a lot.  Look at his website.  Impressive stuff.  He must be an expert.

In this article in Advertising Age, Mr. Baskin says that business should:

Figure out how to do a better, more proactive job of telling consumers what we know about them, what we do with that information and why. What we’re doing now isn’t enough, and we know it. We should prepare for — if not proactively prompt — a better, more-informed conversation about privacy before we get hit over the head with it.

We here at Big Data and Law agree. 

It’s in the best interest of the business community to assert some leadership on privacy matters, and the business community hasn’t been doing it. 

Maybe Mr. Baskin’s advice is based on the poor showing of the business community in this regard.  Consider the reaction to the California mobile privacy initiative last year from these groups:

    • American Association of Advertising Agencies
    • American Advertising Federation
    • Association of National Advertisers
    • Direct Marketing Association
    • Interactive Advertising Bureau
    • National Business Coalition on E-Commerce and Privacy
    • Association of Magazine Media

They wrote a letter to the California Attorney General in which the strongly complained about, among other things, not being included in the process of developing California’s policies about mobile device privacy.

You can find their letter here

On the other hand, some in the business community appear to have taken a leadership role on occasion.  Perhaps most conspicuous among those activities has been the National Telecommunications and Information Agency “stakeholder” process intended to create a Short Form Notice Code of Conduct to Promote Transparency in Mobile App Practices.

We here at Big Data and the Law consider that effort a failure.  One principal reason is that the business community participants decided not to adopt to the code they developed.  Seriously.  So much for the stakeholder process and the business community taking a leadership role.

So we have further evidence that Mr. Baskin is correct in his unstated assumption that the business community needs to step and get involved in this privacy thing. 

All good, but we must now part company with Mr. Baskin.  Unfortunately, it appears that one reason for his concern is that he believes the public doesn’t know that their personal information is being gathered and used – and that the public might find out about that.

In short, he thinks we’re ignorant.  Consider these comments in his article, in which we means marketing professionals or business generally and they means the rest of us:

Only we don’t really know if our scrutiny matters to consumers, because they don’t really know what we’re doing. 

Sure, they tolerate it, but that’s mostly out of ignorance, not informed choice.

If they ever figured out what giving away all the free information about themselves gets them, even the most publicly exposed millennial might think otherwise.

Unfortunately, Mr. Baskin is not alone in his low opinion of us.  That’s a problem. 

Privacy issues are complicated. You know that even if some people think you don’t know it.  Those issues will not be resolved if the public in general is considered important only when the very smart and important people think that we might get wise to what  are up to.

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