The following article was first published in the Resources section of Stifel Marcin’s website. It is reposted here with permission.
In today’s digital age, where data is the backbone of business operations, online privacy has emerged as a critical concern.
With an ever-growing emphasis on data protection and compliance, businesses must prioritize safeguarding user information to maintain trust and mitigate risks.
This holds true for B2B enterprises, where sensitive data exchange is common. The stakes are high when it comes to privacy for B2B businesses.
Breaches can lead to significant financial loss, reputational damage, certification compliance issues, and legal repercussions.
Customers and business partners expect their data to be handled with extreme care, and negligence in privacy measures can have far-reaching consequences.
As the digital landscape continues to evolve, businesses must proactively address customer and visitor privacy to stay ahead of the curve and protect their interests.
Of course, your marketing team should also be in direct communication with your legal team, to ensure accuracy and compliance to your business operations and locations.
1. Conduct a Privacy Audit. A privacy audit involves an assessment of your website’s data collection, storage, processing, and security practices. It helps you understand what personal information you collect, how it is collected and how it is used and shared.
A thorough audit will also detail your current privacy policies, cookie usage, third-party integrations, and security measures. Our digital marketing experts can support this assessment and provide proactive insights and recommendations that can help you mitigate risks.
Both play a vital role in establishing transparency and trust with website visitors. But crafting clear and legally compliant privacy policies and notices can be a complex task, especially for B2B businesses that may have unique data processing requirements.
- Data collection: a statement to clearly explain what types of personal information are collected from website visitors, such as names, email addresses, or browsing behavior
- Purpose of data collection: an explanation of the purposes for which the collected data will be used, whether it’s for order fulfillment, communication, personalization, or analytics
- Data sharing: disclose whether or with whom the collected data will be shared, such as third-party service providers, business partners, or affiliates
- User rights: outline the rights of users regarding their personal information, including the right to access, correct, delete, or restrict the processing of their data
- Opt out processes: explain to users the correct process to follow to request their information be removed from business databases and tracking as applicable to your site
- Security: describe the measures in place to protect user data from unauthorized access, discourse, alteration, or destruction
It is important to manage cookies responsibly because they can collect sensitive information and impact user privacy. In many cases, the best approach is to obtain informed and explicit consent through the use of a third-party cookies function control or custom solution, triggering a pop-up message on a user’s site entrance.
Regardless of your approach, businesses should demonstrate respect for user choices and their right to control personal data.
When implementing cookie consent notices/banners, again, transparency is key. Clearly communicate to users what types of cookies are being used, their purpose and how the collected data will be used.
Providing consent options allows users to choose which types of cookies they want to accept, giving them control of their privacy preferences.
It is also important to maintain a record of user preferences, as this ensures compliance and allows users to easily manage and modify their consent settings.
4. Implementing Data Protection Measures. Customer data is valuable and businesses have a responsibility to protect it.
Implementing data protection measures involve a combination of technical, organizational and procedural safeguards to ensure confidentiality, integrity and availability of customer data, including:
- Security of data storage: employing secure servers or cloud platforms with strong authentication mechanisms and encryption protocols can help prevent unauthorized access to sensitive data. Encryption protects data both at rest and in transit, ensuring that if it is intercepted, it remains unintelligible to unauthorized parties.
- Access controls: businesses can restrict data access to authorized personnel only, minimizing the risk of internal data breaches. Strong authentication measures, like multi-factor authentication, add layers of security to restrict access to authorized individuals.
- Data backups: by implementing automated and regular backup processes, businesses can retrieve information in the event of a data loss or a security incident, minimizing downtime and data loss.
- Plug-in updates: plug-ins, an extension of features and functionality added to a website, can serve various purposes, from contact forms to social media sharing buttons to analytics tracking. Monitoring installed plug-ins allows businesses to stay vigilant against potential security vulnerabilities and to take proactive measures to protect the confidentiality of customer data.
5. Ensure Compliance with Regulations. Meeting compliance standards with privacy regulations such as the General Data Protection Regulation is vital for B2B businesses to protect customer data, maintain trust and avoid legal repercussions.
GDPR, implemented in the European Union, has global impact, and sets strict guidelines for the processing and protection of personal data. Those failing to comply with the GDPR can face various consequences, including financial penalties, reputational damage, legal action, and compensation claims, regulatory investigations, and audits and business restrictions.
States with Digital Privacy Laws
In the U.S., five states have enacted comprehensive data privacy laws, including California, Connecticut, Colorado, Utah, and Virginia.
Additional states have introduced legislation related to online privacy or have current but less comprehensive laws than the leading five states.
Privacy laws are set to take effect in several states from 2023-2026, including Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Tennessee, and Texas.
Given the evolving landscape of privacy regulations, including state-specific laws, businesses need to stay informed about laws applicable to their operations.
Seeking legal counsel and regularly reviewing and updating privacy practices can help your business stay compliant and ahead of the competition in an increasingly privacy-conscious business environment.
A Marketer’s Perspective
It’s important to note that website privacy is not a one-time undertaking but an on-going commitment that requires continuous monitoring and adapting to evolving regulations.
Prioritizing website privacy is no longer optional but a necessity for businesses, particularly for B2B organizations.
It is important to understand you should always consult with legal counsel that is versed on digital law and website data handling, and the content offered in this article is from our marketing perspective only.
EXPLORE BY CATEGORY
Stay Connected with CBIA News Digests
The latest news and information delivered directly to your inbox.