Data Privacy a Vital Issue Heading Into 2015

Mary Ellen Power, January 12, 2015

Widely reported technology outages, data breaches impacting millions of people and similar events related to data privacy have changed how people feel about their personal information. We now live in a society where most consumers feel their confidential data isn't safe, and these privacy concerns extend out to signing contracts and performing similar authorizations that could impact them in court. A recent report from the Harvard Business Review delves into these issues and predicts that data privacy issues could be a focal point in 2015.

Understanding the privacy problem
Citing a study from Pew Research, the news source explained that 91 percent of consumers agree, or strongly agree, that their personal data is no longer something they can control. What's more troubling, however, is how people perceive the problem.

If consumers blamed hackers and other cybercriminals for their data privacy problems, the issue would be simpler to deal with. Instead, the report said that most consumers put the impetus on businesses to protect their personal information, and do not send their ire to the hackers that are stealing data. The result is a situation in which organizations get the bad press for data privacy incidents, not hackers, and therefore need to be prepared to put more resources into protecting information.

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The legal side of the data privacy issue
The Harvard Business Review explained that privacy concerns don't just extend to times when information is lost or stolen. Instead, many people are growing more worried about how organizations that trade in consumer data will use that information in the courtroom. Purchasing patterns, Internet histories and other information creates a huge market in the advertising sector, and that information can be brought to court. This is leading to an increased focus on user authorization and authentication, making digital consent a major focal point within the data privacy segment.

Using e-signature functionality to handle digital consent
Electronic signature software can help organizations create a consumer-friendly and internally valuable e-signing platform that can support efforts to ensure digital consent in a legally viable way. A good e-signature process will not only gather a valid signature from consumers and employees using digital channels, it can also ensure that key information is communicated to stakeholders in an agreement, adding weight to the consent that is provided via the agreement.

Our beginner's guide to e-signatures provides vital insight into how an e-signature process can ensure user privacy. Check it out to learn the basics of how the technology can help you deal with digital consent issues in the coming year.