There are over 25 billion connected devices utilized by consumers on a worldwide scale, according to the Federal Trade Commission. Even though technology has wonderful capabilities, there are also some risks and other problematic elements that come with them.
Digital privacy is a major concern among the general public. It is a hot topic for discussion, as there are surveillance moves being made by the government, hackers and data thieves that infringe upon the privacy rights of technology users. Tech businesses have taken this issue up and are implementing concrete steps to protect their consumers’ privacy and security. Here are some of the steps tech companies should make to safeguard digital privacy:
Companies that collect data should minimize how much they collect to keep consumers’ information safe. They shouldn’t hold onto consumer data for a long period of time, as that gives the government, hackers and data thieves more time to access it and extrapolate sensitive information that infringes upon consumer’s privacy. In addition, companies should be aware of what kind and how much data they are acquiring from their customers. Cellphone and internet-related companies, for example, should put restrictions in their data collection because they are at a higher risk of data exploitation. They should either not collect data, collect only certain categories of data, collect data that isn’t sensitive or only collect data that can be de-identified.
Companies should provide consumers with choices about how their data is used. They should send out surveys or indicate on the customer’s contract the kind of data they will give consent for collection. Data information is important for companies to optimize user experiences, gain insight into their customers’ wants and needs and identify geographical areas where customers need more support. However, they don’t need every piece of data to accomplish their goals. Customers should have the option to choose what data is collected, and phone and internet companies should be contractually obliged to follow through with their requests.
Building Security Into Devices
Many phone companies have upped their hardware and encryption security implementation. Many digital companies have taken the advice of security experts about how they can better design their products. The FTC recommends focusing on authentication, protecting interfaces between devices, limiting permissions, using security tools, testing security measures before release and setting the most secure choice in the privacy settings as the default setting.
Apple is one company that has consistently upgraded the privacy settings on their phones. The new Apple iPhone 7 boasts privacy and security features like tracking-free mobile payments, strongly encrypted password codes and improved fingerprint scanners. Other tech companies are also designing their products to have built-in authentication access points that keep track of the transmission and reception of sensitive data and information. If an unauthorized person attempts to access the device or data, the built-in networks will sense the intrusion. The company will then thoroughly test their authenticity and notify the customer through other channels of communication (i.e. email, text or phone call).
Companies should take the time to help their consumers learn about the privacy settings that are available to them. Many buyers are keen for a plug-in and play experience with their devices; however, companies should communicate that there are important security measures that need to be taken when setting up the device. The initial registration email sent to customers, for example, is an opportunity for companies to list their security features, explain why they’re important and offer guidance on how the customer can effectively use them.