Personal Data: Toxic or Non-Toxic

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2 min Read    |  Published: Wed Sep 30 2020
In today’s world, consumer data is without question one of a business’s most valuable assets. When used correctly, data powers a better understanding of your market and customers, customer behaviour and experience. However, the introduction of Privacy regulations, including the GDPR, CCPA, POPIA and the LGPD, have also lead to data becoming potentially one of the most toxic assets and biggest liabilities a business can hold.

Customer’s personal data is no longer a freely available resource, ready to be tapped at any moment with little consideration for the individual’s rights to Privacy. Failure to evidence what personal data a business holds and why will not only lead to astonishingly large regulatory fines, but also litigation, reputational damage and the loss of customers which can cause long-term, potentially existential, damage to a business – all because of an inability to evidence why data is held and processed in accordance with the privacy regulation(s), and in line with the wishes and preferences of their customers.

This is a problem faced by many. We often see businesses embark on data mapping and discovery projects in an attempt to improve their understanding around data across their organization. However, this practice is both costly and time-consuming as data sets evolve constantly, changing on a daily basis, thus rendering data-mapping exercises ineffective and requiring significantly more time to complete than may have first been anticipated.

Instead, businesses need to first look at Consent & Permissions. Doing so allows data to be split into two distinct silos: toxic and non-toxic. Toxic data can be classified as personal data held by a company that lacks the necessary context to prove the legitimate and legal processing of said data. Toxic data is highly dangerous, often leading to regulatory fines and inevitable reputational damage. Non-toxic data is the opposite: this is customer data you have permission – or consent – to hold and use, with the appropriate records of processing to prove as such to customers and regulators.

Organisations that adopt this simple approach will be today’s customer champions and succeed in protecting their brand, generating revenue and customer engagement whilst simultaneously eliminating risk through improved data minimisation and privacy-by-design practices.

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