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“There is no privacy, get over it”

I am sure you have heard this several times since Scott McNealy, Sun’s CEO, first said it back in 1999, “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it”. After 14 years it seems Americans haven’t gotten over it. A Pew Research study shows more people are concerned about the government’s surveillance than terrorism (Few See Adequate Limits on NSA Surveillance Program). The implication is that people are becoming more privacy aware. If this is the case, what does that mean for business?

Privacy awareness

I read an article that discussed a Forrester report to be released this week that backed the premise that more people were becoming privacy aware. According to the article,

…62 percent of respondents say they would be “not at all likely” to repeat a purchase from a company that shared their personal information with a data broker, and that 37 percent of them have bailed on an online transaction due to something they read in a company’s terms of service.

It was surprising to me that when asked to think about browser settings used for protecting privacy only 35% did nothing. Seems like we’re a long way from getting over it.

Listening to Dad

In my rebellious, teenage years I sometimes complained about how some company had policies I disagreed with or a TV station was taking a slanted look at the news. My Dad always reminded me that I had a choice to take my business elsewhere or to simply change the channel.

If there really is an increased awareness about privacy, will shoppers begin to change their buying habits due to a company’s privacy practices? From a business-to-business perspective, I suggest we are seeing it already.

B2B privacy requirements

Over the past few years I have reviewed an increasing number of B2B contracts that require privacy protection clauses. These are usually related to:

  • No marketing to the employees of the company that is customer product / services,
  • No sharing of personal or purchasing information, or
  • Requiring that the vendor company protect information in a way that is compatible with that of the customer company’s practices.

More frequently, these terms have become non-negotiable from the customer company (depending on the size of the contract or the companies involved) implying that if these requirements are not met they will take their business elsewhere.

What should a business do?

If you are a B2B company you may have already felt this impact, if not…it is coming. If you sell directly to consumers it is time to re-evaluate your privacy policy and associated notice, practices, and procedures to ensure they truly reflect your company’s posture in protecting your customers’ and employees’ personal information.

Privacy-trained employees are an asset!