We have the power to end the cycle of consumer abuse.
Currently, consumers bear the burden of safeguarding their own privacy. When our personal information is breached by data brokers and social networks that treat us as nothing but the fuel for their ad-driven revenue models, we stop feeling in control of our lives.
It's time that we, as marketers, take responsibility for how we use and share consumer data. Most marketing relies on psychological manipulation, microtargeting, and FOMO. And it is making consumers miserable.
We have the power to change that.
As ethical marketers, we wish to empower each other to break this cycle and level the playing field. I urge all of you to commit to responsible marketing, and empower others in your organization to do the same.
Together, we can change our industry for the benefit of society and dismantle the oppressive, Americentric systems that are at the core of unethical marketing.
Imagine how you would feel to be on the other end of your marketing and data collection.
By focusing on the human side of marketing, we can develop new acquisition channels that reward our existing customers, instead of depending on tech monopolies to find our best customers for us using proprietary profiling technology. We can stop the false advertising and virtue signaling that unethical marketing thrives on, and instead challenge ourselves to become better storytellers.
As marketers, we owe it to our customers to not obfuscate how we are using their data. This means not using psychological tricks, such as fabricated "limited time offers", pre-checked opt-ins, and other dark patterns.
We recognize the need to break the cycle of consumerism. We will continuously review our sales and marketing to ensure they benefit the common good.
The United States's patchwork of state and industry-specific privacy laws does not go far enough, but many marketers have trouble following these minimal privacy laws. I suggest that every marketer that wants to demonstrate their commitment to data protection obtain the International Association of Privacy Professionals’ CIPP certification, which is the global standard to demonstrate one’s knowledge of privacy laws, regulations and frameworks.
There are also privacy frameworks that one can look toward when crafting their marketing programs.
The Obama Administration's Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights provides a baseline of clear protections for consumers. The rights are:
Individual Control: Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data organizations collect from them and how they use it.Transparency: Consumers have a right to easily understandable information about privacy and security practices.
Respect for Context: Consumers have a right to expect that organizations will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
Security: Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
Access and Accuracy: Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data are inaccurate.Focused Collection: Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.Accountability: Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
The OECD Privacy Framework contains additional consumer protections that marketers should memorize and respect. These rights are:
Collection Limitation Principle: There should be limits to the collection of personal data and any such data should be obtained by lawful and fair means and, where appropriate, with the knowledge or consent of the data subject.
Data Quality Principle: Personal data should be relevant to the purposes for which they are to be used, and, to the extent necessary for those purposes, should be accurate, complete and kept up-to-date.
Purpose Specification Principle: The purposes for which personal data are collected should be specified not later than at the time of data collection and the subsequent use limited to the fulfilment of those purposes or such others as are not incompatible with those purposes and as are specified on each occasion of change of purpose.Use Limitation Principle: Personal data should not be disclosed, made available or otherwise used for purposes other than those specified in accordance with Paragraph 9 except:
with the consent of the data subject; or
by the authority of law.
Security Safeguards Principle: Personal data should be protected by reasonable security safeguards against such risks as loss or unauthorised access, destruction, use, modification or disclosure of data.
Openness Principle: There should be a general policy of openness about developments, practices and policies with respect to personal data. Means should be readily available of establishing the existence and nature of personal data, and the main purposes of their use, as well as the identity and usual residence of the data controller.
Individual Participation Principle: An individual should have the right:
to obtain from a data controller, or otherwise, confirmation of whether or not the data controller has data relating to him;
to have communicated to him, data relating to him
within a reasonable time;
at a charge, if any, that is not excessive;
in a reasonable manner; and
in a form that is readily intelligible to him;
to be given reasons if a request made under subparagraphs (6.1) and (6.2) is denied, and to be able to challenge such denial; and
to challenge data relating to him and, if the challenge is successful to have the data erased, rectified, completed or amended.
Accountability Principle: A data controller should be accountable for complying with measures which give effect to the principles stated above.