Opinion: GDPR is all about caring how we use our customers’ data

Opinion: GDPR is all about caring how we use our customers’ data

Bd4travel founder Andy Owen-Jones explained why new EU data protection rules should be embraced at a Travolution roundtable

It feels to me like in e-commerce for too long we have been careless with data.

If you are not careful with data e-commerce looks a bit like the Wild West and that’s going to come back and bite a number of companies very, very badly.

If you take the Cambridge Analytica Facebook scandal. I don’t think anything they talked about doing was anything but mainstream practice for many companies.

They’ve gone beyond what’s acceptable in terms of entrapment and getting politics embroiled with it.

But essentially what they were doing was harvesting as much data as possible and using that to do things that the original purpose was not made clear for.

That’s the problem. It’s not that they were using data. We all use data.

If someone comes in a shop the first thing you do is start to assess them and say what kind of holiday would this person like and you talk to them.

And they want to give you information so you can do something appropriate with it.

What if you took that and went next door and said I’ve got this guy and it looks like he needs a new pair of shoes and someone rushed in from the shop next door and tried to sell him shoes?

Or you said this guy looks like a swing voter, could you come in and persuade him not to vote for Hilary Clinton.

That would be an abuse of your conversation in the shop, but somehow online it’s been okay to do that kind of thing.

What we are doing in online marketing is throwing data at people and hoping some of it sticks and saying ‘here’s a hundred million holidays, find the right one’.

Then you track their data and pass it on to someone else who will try to sell them something else. And no one knows how all these pieces fit together.

The question is do we care what happens to that person’s data like we would in a physical shop or if it was one of your friends.

The big blowback on Facebook and Cambridge Analytica was, frankly, they didn’t care what happened to those people’s data. How many business models are based on the same thing?

We all complain when people retarget us with product that follows you around the internet and you never gave anyone permission to retarget me.

The whole thing with GDPR is it’s a potentially heavy-handed approach and it’s going to be a real pain.

But if it brings back the concept of caring for people’s data and letting people be in more control it’s going to lift the whole industry, and all industries, because we are not going to be abusing people’s data.

I’m 100% convinced that if people consider that you abuse their data they are not going to trust your brand.

You might have a very trusted brand which does all sorts of good things and then you do something online and can get away from those rules of trust. Actually you can’t.

People need to trust you at all stages of the process at all channels and the point of GDPR is only using data for the purpose that people want it to be used.

Our company’s based in Germany which has always had rules as stringent as this. The difference is now they are going to be applied and there are big fines if you don’t comply.

The important word for me is care. Do we care enough about our customer to want them to have control of their data?

It’s good practice if we do, it’s going to be a real pain to get there but it is now inevitable.

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