Michael Weston takes a look at why the child benefit data scandal matters to digital marketers.

As the conference circuit around email marketing continues to grow in scale, I recently found myself being asked to talk about that worthy old stalwart, Best Practice and the Law.

An important subject - drier than a thirsty camel most of the time, but the scandal over the loss of personal data by our old friends over at Her Majesty's Revenue & Customs has brought data security issues firmly into the public consciousness.

I didn’t realise quite how mainstream it had become, though, until I saw that even the News of the World were getting in on the act with a terrific photo of Sarah and Gordon Brown sitting down to what looked like breakfast... the captions read:

SARAH: "What would you like for Christmas, darling?"
GORDON: "Oh, just a couple of CDs"

The relevance to us in the digital economy is that we are collecting an enormous amount of potentially highly valuable data.

Are we respecting the individual's 'Right to Privacy'? Are we keeping their data safe, up-to-date and processing it safely?

I hope so, because it wouldn't surprise me to see the Information Commissioner paying more attention to what we're up to from now on... and maybe go scalp-hunting.  

Before last week's scandal hit, HRMC and the Government were 'trusted' by twice as many people as websites or internet retailers.

With confidence shaken, we in the digital economy need to make it our business to ensure consumers level of trust in online commerce only improves from now on.

Michael Weston is the managing director of Silverpop.

Mike Weston

Published 3 December, 2007 by Mike Weston

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