Mobile Marketing: Self-Policing as Proactive Privacy Protection

Many marketers are already being pro-active in balancing privacy concerns with leveraging personal data. These efforts range from installing state-of-the art software to more creative initiatives such as one described by Jonathan Lampe, RhinoSoft’s V.P. of product management. In order to avoid “the creepiness factor,” when sending out promotional email, RhinoSoft makes a point of “introducing at least a plausible amount of fuzzing to make it sound as if we’re not stalking that person.”

Anonymization

Many marketers proactively address privacy by deploying anonymization techniques, which aim to protect the customer’s privacy while permitting other uses of the personal data. One such technology is data de-identification.

 De-identification

De-identification is what you have left after removing directly identifying data items from a file of personal data and the remaining set of data can no longer be associated with a specific individual, or individuals.”

With de-identified data, the marketer removes any personally identifiable information (PII) of the smartphone user, while retaining enough information for data mining and other marketing purposes. It allows for marketing research, for example, while still honoring the brand’s posted privacy policy not to use that particular personal data for marketing purposes.  This, of course, depends on what the rest of the privacy policy states.

The biggest drawback for utilizing this option, from a marketer’s point of view, is that while the data can definitely be used to understand aggregate customer behavior and trends, the marketer loses much of the individual targeting, which, in turn, reduces its relevance to the individual customer. (Source: FicoLabs)

On the other hand, by utilizing de-identified data, the business lessens the risk of privacy breaches for their customers. Furthermore, according to the Future of Privacy Forum (2012), it significantly reduces the business’ own liability by having demonstrated due diligence in the event that a privacy breach does occur that involves their clients’ data.