Information & privacy

What will the future of our industry look like? We asked the experts for their predictions.

Respecting privacy
By John Gustavson, president & CEO, CMA

Some of the newest things we are developing – behavioural marketing, mobile marketing, commercial email and new uses for consumer information – are a serious threat to our freedom in the marketplace if we don’t manage them properly. 
Behavioural marketing is a good example. As marketers, we have only ourselves to blame, having publicly used “behavioural targeting” to describe a marketing technique that scares consumer groups, privacy advocates, regulators, politicians and the public. Consumers may not mind us studying their interests but they don’t want us tracking their “behaviour.” That concern is shared by Canada’s federal privacy commissioner, and Canada’s private-sector privacy law is scheduled for a formal review in 2011. The threat of more regulation is a real possibility.
The use of social media to capture consumer information will come under increased scrutiny in the coming months. Canada’s privacy laws already require business to obtain consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information for commercial purposes, but organizations must also ensure their representatives properly identify their affiliation. 
Finally, anti-spam legislation was reintroduced by the federal government in June but some high-profile privacy advocates are pushing for even tougher regulation because they don’t think marketers are doing it right. 
One major slip-up and the entire marketing community will be tarred with the same brush.Managed effectively, reputable marketers’ use of new online technologies can be turned into a business advantage; not managed properly, these new technologies will be our biggest threat.

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