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The case for the marketing department as a full partner in biometric data privacy

Categories Biometrics News  |  Trade Notes
The case for the marketing department as a full partner in biometric data privacy

How critical is a company’s marketing department to developing and safeguarding biometric data?

This is not a survey, but chances are a fair number of people pictured foxes guarding henhouses.

It probably has nothing to do with marketing as a department or a career, but the self-realization that proximity to treasure can soften one’s virtuous convictions. Temptations abound.

A trio of writers has called this lurking thought what it is: needlessly limiting for biometric data strategies and even for entire companies. And the team has some studies that pretty much make the case.

The authors are Sachin Gupta, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Marketing Research; Panos Moutafis, CEO of ethical-AI startup Zenus; and Matthew Schneider, an assistant professor of stats and data privacy at Drexel University. Their article was published by the American Marketing Association.

It opens by pointing out that in the standard (but by no means universal) corporate flow chart the legal department makes privacy decisions and data security is decided by IT. That is pretty much the whole corporate biometrics game.

Marketing is relegated to managing — massaging, really — the market’s privacy perceptions.

The marketing department was shut out of key decisions at Vertafore, maker of insurance software, and when it was hit with a breach in 2020, gouts of personal data were accessed.

The writers say that it is at least possible that a marketing team could have said a customer’s personal information was not needed in order to model risk and premiums. That information might not have been stolen.

Marketing departments are creating, strengthening and renewing relationships with customers. They are the perfect tool for creating the perception of protection, and, of course, it should not be left at that.

Ethical outfits back the perception with effective policies and actions. Marketing’s role should be one of helping to mold data processing protocols that create insight and protect data. In theory, it is marketing’s hide on the line if it is selling the privacy version of vaporware.

The authors cite a number of studies to back themselves up. One, from 2018, indicates that customers who felt they experienced data policy transparency and control with a vendor were more forgiving when a breach occurred.

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