Are You Violating Your Customers’ Privacy?


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Toca-Boca-Customer-Friendly-Privacy-SettingsConsumers care a lot about their privacy. They worry first and foremost about the safety of their assets and the safety of their family members and loved ones. They worry about identity theft and about having their credit card numbers and bank accounts hacked into and compromised. The next thing they are concerned about is losing their mobile phones and all the data that it contains—both because it’s inconvenient to lose all that information and also because it might fall into the wrong hands.

Now, increasingly, people—both in their consumer and professional roles—also worry about being spied on, wiretapped, or placed under surveillance without their knowledge. What more and more people are now beginning to realize is that the mobile phones to which they entrust their lives are actually tracking their whereabouts as they move around during the day. Many people find this profoundly disturbing. So they take actions that they believe will limit the ability of others to spy on them or to gather data about their daily routines by monitoring their location throughout the day. What most people don’t realize is that even if they have location services or GPS turned off, your phone location is still being monitored. What many people also aren’t conscious of is that many of the mobile apps they use and love are tracking their locations and sending that information to advertising services’ databases where that information is stored and used to target relevant ads. (If you frequent Starbucks, maybe you’ll be interested in an offer for Peets coffee; if you work out at one gym, maybe you’ll be open to a promotion for another fitness center.)

Are You Tracking Your Customers’ Locations?

Every company has privacy policies in place and discloses to customers about what personal information is captured, stored, and shared with others. The one area in which it’s easy to be in violation of your corporate privacy policy without being aware of it is in the mobile apps you deploy. That’s because the default for many mobile application development toolkits is to track users’ location and to send that information to a marketing database for analysis.

If you do have mobile apps that need to know customers’ locations in order to provide them with useful functionality—like directions to your nearest store or ATM machine—you should check to make sure that no program or service is actually recording or storing the information about your customers’ whereabouts.

The mobile organization, CTIA, has put together a useful guide for mobile app developers that educates developers and provides good examples of best practices to follow.

Not Tracking Customers’ Locations Should Be the Default!
We need to take a stand against any person, service, or application that makes customers take an explicit action to avoid being tracked. We all should have the right to move about freely without anyone spying on us. Let’s ensure that the phones we use, the networks we use, the applications we use, the websites we build, and the mobile apps we develop do not monitor, track and store, information about our customers’ whereabouts!

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Patricia Seybold
With 30 years of experience consulting to customer-centric executives in technology-aggressive businesses across many industries, Patricia Seybold is a visionary thought leader with the unique ability to spot the impact that technology enablement and customer behavior will have on business trends very early. Seybold provides customer-centric executives within Fortune 1 companies with strategic insights, technology guidance, and best practices.


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