Online privacy has become a pressing and controversial topic in the news today. What once sounded like conspiracy theories of government spying and constant tracking has become a reality. With marketing firms tracking consumer movements and spending habits for the purposes of “personalization” in advertising and the selling of personal data to any third party willing to pay the price, there is no shortage of business entities, organizations, and even government agencies using the internet to track individual and business activities in cyber space. Although there are some laws in place that require companies to provide privacy options to users, many will not guarantee that information won’t be sold to third parties, and in most cases, the onus is on users to opt out of information gathering.
As a business owner, this is no doubt a troubling issue. You need online services to run your operation in an effective and efficient manner, and yet you have few options if you don’t agree with the privacy policies offered by websites, software providers, and other online entities. If you’re lucky, you’ll be offered the ability to opt out of some data collection or at least decide whether or not you want your data to be shared with third parties. But these options aren’t always available, or the process of opting out could be a confusing and frustrating.
The good news is that you’re not alone in wanting to protect your sensitive data and enjoy some measure of privacy when operating online. With help from an experienced IT support provider, you could gain access to the tools and services that will help you protect your clients, your employees, and your company. It’s a good idea to start by discussing your concerns and options with your managed services provider. IT professionals should be able to inform you about possible protections that can help you ensure some measure of privacy when operating online.
For example, you might be interested to learn more about the protections offered for activities performed in the cloud. Many businesses have elected to contract with technology service vendors for cloud hosting. You can use such services for records storage, email hosting, and more. But are you protected from prying eyes? Your service provider can put your mind at ease by detailing the measures in place to protect your privacy.
As for using online resources on a day-to-day basis, you may want to implement your own privacy policies, such as using private browsing features that automatically delete cookies and browser history each time a session is closed. Or you might install software that tells you which trackers a website is using and allows you to opt out on a piecemeal basis. Still, this won’t necessarily stop users on your network from revealing sensitive data. And it certainly won’t stop the government from scanning your online activities in the name of cyber security or stop marketing entities and other interested parties from attempting to track your usage, use it to their advantage, or sell it to others.
Of course, as a business owner, you may also find yourself on the other side of the privacy issue. Tracking consumer activity can be a major boon for your business, giving you data that allows you to more effectively advertise to target demographics and even individuals that are likely to be interested in your products or services. If you also offer online services that include privacy policies, you have to seriously consider how your policies could affect your business and your reputation.
By guaranteeing that you won’t sell consumer data to third parties, for example, you could market your company as taking consumer privacy concerns seriously and acts in the best interest of customers. On the other hand, your business partners may expect some amount of information sharing as a means of increasing profitability and success for all. It’s a slippery slope, and you’ll have to put some serious thought into striking a balance between revenue and privacy and identify the best options for your company and your patrons.
Unfortunately, many business owners are unaware of the multitude of potential privacy issues affecting their operations. Or even if they are aware, they don’t have the tools or resources to do anything about them. Until the legal system catches up, there may not be a lot you can do to ensure the privacy of your business interactions online. But you can certainly hire a reputable provider of IT support to advise you on your options, help implement appropriate security measures, and identify possible privacy policies to protect your customers.