Four Steps to Strengthening Consent Management and Protecting User Data

Data Privacy Day promotes data protection and privacy best practices for our increasingly sophisticated digital society, as consumers are sharing more information with organizations – and with each other in ways mediated by organizations – than ever before. Unfortunately, millions of people are still unaware and uninformed about how their personally identifiable information (PII) is being used, collected and shared. Regulations, such as the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), have been enacted in order to hold companies accountable for providing greater transparency and control to consumers about what data they collect and how they use it – with additional global data privacy laws on the way. CCPA even gives California consumers the power to demand that organizations not sell their data. This highlights how data privacy requirements change quite frequently and become increasingly complex for companies that operate in these markets.

As a result, IDC predicts that over one-third of brands will adopt consent management systems this year in order to build trust, differentiate their data systems, and go beyond just being compliant in order to secure data. Premier consent management systems are designed to enable digital transformation initiatives at the scale required for massive populations, while serving individuals’ privacy needs. By connecting the business needs with consumer demands, digital relationships can be built between the two with trust. However, organizations need to take the following steps before they embark on their consumer trust maturity journey, as this path is not always so simple:

1. Know where user trust risks intersect with digital transformation opportunities.

If you don’t identify areas where your digital transformation opportunities become complicated by user trust risks, you can’t lay the foundation for your organization’s approach to building consumer trust when you plan to leverage personal data. Finding the equilibrium between these two aspects allows companies to quickly innovate and provide outstanding user experiences all while ensuring security, privacy and compliance.

2. View PII as a joint asset

Most organizations feel extremely proprietary about the PII they collect from users, and some companies’ entire business models revolve around the collecting and selling of consumer information. It’s time for a mindset shift.

Take a cue from all the stakeholders at the table, including your end-users, and view PII as an asset in which both the consumer and the business have a stake. Not only will this mindset position organizations for success, but it will also be helpful for compliance, as regulations are volatile and new laws may require you to change your practices quickly.

3. Lean into consent

CCPA is a great example of how new regulations intend to empower consumers. It gives Californians several new powers similar to the rights GDPR acknowledges for EU citizens, including, for example:

  • Knowing all data collected by a business on them, twice a year, free of charge.
  • Saying “no” to the sale of their PII.
  • Deleting data they have posted.
  • Being informed regarding which types of information will be collected prior to its collection or at the point of collection, and to be informed of any changes to the collection.

At the same time, consent conveys special information management freedoms and responsibilities to organizations, along with user trust implications. Being transparent about the PII collected and how it is secured will not only help organizations adhere to these regulations, but it will also augment user trust.

4. Leverage identity and access management (IAM) capabilities for building trust

In an increasingly digital and mobile environment, individuals typically have multiple digital identities, and want and need to use them for safe and simple access to a variety of services, applications and resources from anywhere in the world. It is essential that organizations implement IAM infrastructure as the foundation for a robust security strategy against threat actors who seek to obtain unauthorized access to sensitive data.

To ensure that users are legitimate when accessing online resources, organizations need to design authentication journeys that validate them properly. But the process can’t add a great deal of friction, or it can add employee inefficiencies or keep customers from buying more. However, when necessary, access has to be revoked and accounts deleted due to today’s heightened level of malicious activity. Identity management platforms take away the pain of this management by automating and providing visibility into the entire IAM lifecycle, all while allowing end-users to retain the controls to manage their own profiles, passwords, privacy settings and personal data.

Embarking on a trust journey

Depending on an organization’s data privacy maturity level, it can prioritize different steps in its consumer trust maturity journey. However, as a very first step, companies must ensure that they have the necessary controls in place to protect consumer data. This requires that companies have their security strategies in order, and there are several ways to do this – for example, ensuring that there is an appropriate amount of friction in the user authentication process so that the right people are able to access the right data and services, and that illegitimate actors’ access attempts are thwarted.

Mandates like CCPA and GDPR are demanding that enterprises apply new levels of scrutiny of personal data hygiene, which is valuable for every enterprise. By prioritizing a modern definition of data protection and privacy that takes full account of the value of consent management, organizations will not only comply with these regulations, but they will most importantly build consumer trust in their brands.

How to Comply with CCPA and Secure Consumer Data in the Cloud

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Eve Maler is the interim CTO of identity and access management (IAM) provider ForgeRock. Maler is responsible for driving advances in privacy and consent that enable user-controlled and compliant data sharing across web, mobile, and Internet of Things contexts. Additionally, she serves as a trusted advisor to public and private forums specializing in key initiatives such as open banking, which requires strong authentication protocols and consented data sharing and payments.

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