Nov 2007
Data Privacy fiasco
No doubt you have followed the recent Governmental cock-up in IT with a mixture of disbelief, interest and anger. HMIRCE burning the records of 25 million individuals onto CD's and then sending it unprotected in an insecure mail system.

If a business were to do this, they would be rightly chastised, and the officers of the company facing huge fines and possible prison sentences. The Teflon Government, whilst getting a hard time about the issue are blaming it on a 'junior' - how convenient!

Data Protection and privacy are key elements to building and maintaining customer trust. Unlike other areas of legal compliance, there is only to be a single company ( that offers audits of a company's privacy procedures.

Don't get caught out like HM Inland Revenue Customs Excise. Make sure that your database is safe, your security procedures solid and your privacy policies are understandable and relevant to your customers.

Privacy Audit provides an objective and impartial approach to auditing your data security procedures, providing you with a snapshot of your data privacy operations, and your database marketing, as opposed the technical IT elements. At the end of the process you will get a quality mark proving your compliance with the audit criteria, and therefore with the Data Protection legislation.

In this age where identity fraud is rife, and information easier than ever to compile, surely it is time for companies that value their customers to engage in ensuring adequate (or better still, more than adequate) data security procedures, and to be able to prove it to all stakeholders within the company?

What does this do for your business? By proving that you take privacy seriously, you will
build trust amongst your customers and partners, which in turn will strengthen your relationships with them. So what does your company look like in terms of data privacy - could you be the next HMIRCE, or can you prove to your customers that you take your relationship with them, and their privacy serious? Can you afford to be another HMIRCE? If not, contact Privacy Audit today.
Online ethics
The Internet has been likened to the Wild West of the USA in the 1800's. The Wild West was characterised by some people making huge fortunes, and everyone was an entrepreneur, adventurer and raconteur. The similarities are clear.

Unfortunately, where people try to make their fortune in new areas, be it physical or virtual, laws are often ignored, abused or broken. These also include the rules of moral decency and ethical behaviour.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the so-called inventor of the modern Internet said, "The web is used by humanity, and humanity has a dark and a light side. I'm an optimist — I think the light side wins. The web is supposed to be a blank sheet of paper, and you can write dark things on that paper as well as light. If you tried to control the web, you would end up with engineers deciding what the truth is, which is worse. But, if we see nasty things happening, we should try and tweak [the web]. If you look at any protocol anywhere, there are technical and social restrictions."

I would agree with this - just as in the Wild West, the Sheriff and Cavalry won through in the end. The problem is, it took time to win the war (and some would say it was never really won). The same will happen for the Internet, and we should all be aware that the Internet of tomorrow will not look like today's web, there will be increased restrictions, more security checks, etc.

Some say that will kill the Internet off, but I am more optimistic about its future - after all we all want secure browsing, more accountable information and messaging services, and more relevance to our world. I very much doubt that there are many users out there who are delighted to receive offers of Viagra, pornography sites and dubious finance deals - let alone the offers of huge wealth by providing your own bank details to help others, supposedly, embezzle money from third world countries.

If regulation provides us with a more ethical framework in which many of us work, study and play, then I am all for it.
Finally published
Well after four years waiting to publish this book, I finally got a publisher to the book on.

This is partly my fault for not pushing it too hard, as the long lead times do lull you into a false sense of security, but I have also been busy promoting the underlying principles of trust in e-business, and busy earning a crust from my consultancy and teaching.

I was asked recently if this experience will put me off writing another book - certainly not. The reception I have received so far from professionals in the marketing and Internet world has inspired me to continue with my efforts, and when I have enough material (and time), I will write another book. I even have an idea for a novel - but that is another story.

One of the first presentations I made on the subject of trust was at Cranfield Management College, and the feedback I received there inspired me to write the book. I had an irate delegate complaining to me, that I should not have to present these ideas to business leaders. He then went on to thank me for putting the ethics and trust debate back into focus for the companies present at the conference.

The book is now on sale, and will be available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc in the next few weeks - and, of course, I would say that it would be an ideal book for Christmas!! Seriously though, I hope that many digital marketers will find the book thought provoking and useful in their digital marketing activities.