Tag Archives: Privacy by Design

Privacy Engineering: How Researchers Can Protect Consumers and Companies

By Marc Dresner, IIR

Those of you who follow this blog know I’ve been a little
hung up on privacy lately. 

My last two posts, respectively, have dealt with
data brokers and the relatively unchecked accumulation of people’s personal information on- and offline by companies nowadays.

Today I want to look at the privacy engineering movement
that’s been gaining traction in the IT community and why researchers ought to
take note.
But first, just to refresh, in my previous posts I’ve echoed
a growing sentiment among experts that we may be on the brink of a privacy
backlash in response to a perceived lack of informed consent and
transparency with regard to Big Data collection and use.
In a nutshell, there’s mounting consumer anxiety over what some characterize as a sort of Big Brother-style corporate surveillance.
It’s a worrisome trend at a time when trust in brands and
companies’particularly among younger cohorts’is already abysmally low.

A Consumer Trust Crisis

Coca-Cola’s Global Director of Human and Cultural Insights,
Tom LaForge, summed up the trust situation well in a speech I attended earlier
this year:
‘Whether or not a competitor will steal share is not what
you should worry about. Worry instead about whether or not people will allow
you to stay in business, because ‘big’ is on probation,’ said LaForge.

‘Worry about
whether or not people will allow you to stay in business, because ‘big’ is on
‘ Tom LaForge, 
The Coca-Cola Co. 
‘People do not trust big entities,’ he added. ‘They don’t
trust governments. And global corporations are often bigger than governments. Corporations
are about as big as it gets.’
How bad is this trust crisis? LaForge said ‘corporations are losing the social
license to operate’ as a result.
In such a climate, it’s not implausible that a
well-publicized privacy breach (note that’s privacy
breach, not data security breach) might
cause serious, even irreparable damage to a brand, company or other
institution’s credibility and relationship with the public.

Privacy: It’s About Ethics Not Compliance

Accordingly, experts are advising companies to think about
privacy not in terms of compliance, but in terms of ethics.
Indeed, the reason privacy is getting so much attention
these days is arguably because current legislation and regulation don’t go far
enough and may not be able keep pace with technological change.
In lieu of statute, companies must sort out privacy ethics
on their own. That’s a complicated affair in which the research community can
be an invaluable resource.
But first, I humbly suggest that researchers get acquainted
with ‘privacy engineering.’

What is Privacy Engineering?

An increasingly popular approach with the tech set, privacy engineering endeavors to
systematize privacy and embed it in the products and processes companies use, buy, create
and sell. 
I conducted a podcast interview on the subject with one of its pioneers, Michelle Dennedy, VP and Chief Privacy Officer at
McAfee, back in April.
Dennedy, whose credentials straddle the legal and
technological aspects of data security and privacy, is also co-author of ‘The Privacy Engineer’s Manifesto: Getting from Policy to Code to QA to Value.’

engineering is a way to build respect for information about people back into
our infrastructure.’ 
- Michelle Dennedy, McAfee 
‘Privacy engineering is a way to build respect for information about
people back into our infrastructure and to think about data from the consumer
perspective,’ Dennedy told me.

It’s particularly important for researchers to familiarize themselves
with this approach, I think, in part because companies are increasingly looking outside the
research function to data scientists to manage Big Data.

You don’t need to be an IT specialist to understand ‘The Privacy
Engineer’s Manifesto’ and it may be just the blueprint consumer researchers need
to insinuate themselves in the fundamental discussions that shape not only
privacy policy and practice, but the manner and extent to which companies
harness Big Data moving forward.

See Also: Privacy by Design

I would also advise researchers to familiarize themselves
with another, similar concept: Privacy by Design’ (PbD).

PbD is both an approach
and a landmark resolution approved by international data protection and
privacy commissioners in Jerusalem in 2010.
The PbD framework sets out seven foundation principles aimed
at ensuring that privacy is embedded into new technologies and business
practices from the outset and boils down to three key tenets:
Trust and control
Freedom of choice
According to Dr. Ann Cavoukian, former Privacy and
Information Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, and architect of PbD, privacy
policies are becoming meaningless to people and companies should not hide
behind them.
‘If your company does something with people’s information
that might raise ethical questions, stating it in a privacy policy’even if it
isn’t buried in jargon’does not equate to informed consent. People check the box
without reading all the time,’ Cavoukian told a room full of consumer
researchers back in May.
‘Privacy isn’t
something people think they should have to ask for; it’s a presumption.’ 
‘ Privacy and Information Commissioner
Ann Cavoukian

‘Privacy isn’t something people think they should have to
ask for; it’s a presumption,’ Cavoukian added.

Bottom line: A privacy policy may protect a company in a
lawsuit, but it won’t help in the court of public opinion, where the stakes
may be much higher.
To illustrate just how serious the threat of a
public backlash has become, Cavoukian cited a variety of survey data,
most notably a January 2014 AP-GfK poll in which more than 60% of respondents
said they value their privacy over anti-terror protections.

PbD and privacy
engineering offer a compelling safeguard to companies because they’re
inherently proactive. You’re embedding privacy protection in everything you do
and design’right down to the code’from the get-go.
While it may seem expensive to take the necessary steps to
ensure that all current and future products, systems, etc., meet standards that
may not be mandated by law, the cost may be infinitely higher to implement,
revise and rebuild after a privacy breach.

How does this
apply to researchers?

We tend to think of this stuff as falling under the purview
of a Chief Privacy Officer, but it’s both an imperative and an opportunity for
Consumer researchers are probably the last people who
require a lecture on the ethical collection and use of data or the sanctity of
trust’without it, we have no respondents’but as you well know, research today
is neither confined to direct response methodologies nor gathered exclusively
from opt-in panels and communities.
Moreover, a research department typically isn’t the only
entity in a company engaged in the collection of consumer data, its sole repository or the arbiter
of its use.
In short, there’s plenty of room for an unintentional breach
of privacy ethics in most organizations today. And given the stakes, this
represents an unacceptable risk.
So, the time has come for internal research functions to get
involved in privacy discussions outside departmental walls and to have a hand
not just in crafting policy and protocol, but to make the case to management for
building a company-wide culture that understands and respects consumer privacy.
So start by paying a visit to your colleagues in IT to talk
about privacy engineering. Privacy oversight will need to cover marketing,
R&D, sales, etc. 

This is a chance for research to assert influence over all of a
company’s present and future consumer information assets. It’s a natural fit.

Marc Dresner is IIR USA’s sr. editor and special communication project lead. He is the former executive editor of Research Business Report, a confidential newsletter for the marketing research and consumer insights industry. He may be reached at mdresner@iirusa.com. Follow him @mdrezz.

Privacy by Design: Are you planning for privacy or getting into trouble due insufficient privacy?

Today’s talk on Big Privacy and Privacy By Design by Ann
Cavoukian was my favourite of the day. She spoke mainly in relation to big
data but everything she had to say relates to completely to all aspects of
marketing research.  She is responsible
for the Privacy By Design concept which has seven foundation principles. Here are
the principles along with my thoughts on how they relate to traditional
research methods.
  1. 1.     
    Be proactive not reactive: In a research
    business, many employees have access to personal information. This includes the
    database team that is responsible for housing information like names, email
    addresses, and data about children and income. A proactive survey team is one
    that identifies technical weaknesses that might make the databases susceptible
    to hacking. A proactive team also includes the project management folks who are there to ensure
    that survey authors don’t ask questions that could reveal private information
    or, at least, ensures that if private information must be asked, that
    responders are aware and this information will be handled with the utmost in care. Everyone is responsible for ensuring that any potential privacy problems are identified and dealt with before they actually become problems.
  2. 2.     
    Privacy is the default setting. In this area,
    survey responders should never have to check with a research company to find out if their privacy will be
    maintained. Their data should be automatically encrypted and stored behind lock
    and key, as well as anonymized at every possible opportunity. Without asking.
  3. 3.     
    Privacy is embedded into the design. Privacy
    features should never be part of agile programming. It should be planned. If
    you’re going to build a brand new mobile survey app or website tracking system,
    privacy features should be planned and built in from day one. Programmers will
    always tell you that add-on features are far less stable and reliable than
    planned systems so do it right from the beginning.
  4. 4.     
    Full functionality such that it is positive sum
    not zero sum
    . Marketing research is founded in the trust that our research
    participants have in us. The more we can prove to them, demonstrate to them,
    that we are doing our utmost best to maintain their privacy, the better it will
    be for us and for them. They retain their privacy and are assured that the
    opinions they share with us will always be confidential. We, on the other hand,
    make our responders happy thereby retaining them as responders, happy
    responders, for much longer. Privacy truly is a win win situation.
  5. 5.     
    End-to-end security. Have you ever tried to
    unsubscribe from a newsletter, only to have to jump through hoops to find an
    unsubscribe button and then still try to figure out which email address to type
    into the unsubscribe box? Well, that is a perfect example of poor design for a
    departing client. When research participants want to join a panel, leave a
    panel, see their information, or delete their information, it should be easy
    and it should be complete. And of course, these processes should be planned and
    built into the system to avoid bothersome hoops.
  6. 6.     
    Visible and transparent. Have a privacy policy.
    If you don’t, you’re already in big trouble. Have a full explained policy and an
    easier to read policy. Explain how research data is used, how it is stored, how it is shared, and when it is deleted. The more open you can be, the more your research
    participants will appreciate you and stick with you. Again, it’s a win win situation.
  7. 7.     
    Respect for user privacy. Remember that you
    would not have a business without the people who answer your surveys or
    participate in your focus groups. Treat them well. Treat them as you’d wish to
    be treated. If there are things that you wish you knew about the research
    process, chances are that your research participants also want to know. So tell
    them. And tell them nicely.

And on a completely unrelated note, did you know that Ann’s
brother is Raffi, a very popular children’s entertainer? When I was a babysitter, putting on a Raffi  ‘record’ was a great way to quiet kids down and get them to bed. The Cavoukian family is certainly accomplished!
Annie Pettit, PhD is the Chief Research Officer at Peanut Labs, a company specializing in self-serve panel sample. Annie is a methodologist focused on data quality, listening research, and survey methods. She won Best Methodological Paper at Esomar 2013, and the 2011 AMA David K. Hardin Award. Annie tweets at @LoveStats and can be reached at annie@peanutlabs.com.