The Importance of Data Privacy, Today and Every Day: Insights from Alliance Data’s Chief Security Officer

Jan 28, 2020 8:00 AM ET
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Data privacy was a major topic among financial services and technology leaders at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting last week in Davos, Switzerland. Google CEO Sundar Pichai asserted that in 2020, privacy should not and cannot be a “luxury good.”

In recognition of International Data Privacy Day on January 28th, Alliance Data’s Chief Security Officer Mike Britton highlights a few changing industry trends around data privacy and why the issue is so central to the company’s values and obligations.

Q: Privacy was discussed more in last week’s World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting than in years past. What implications does that increased attention have on everyday consumers as well as the companies providing goods and services to them? 

Mike Britton: I think consumers are still overwhelmed with what privacy really means. To understand how and where a company shares and uses a consumer’s personal information is still tied to lengthy disclosures and policies that are full of legalese. I think the news headlines and increased regulations around data privacy have created a larger awareness around the topic with everyday consumers. Some major companies have had a strong, concrete track record of being privacy focused, while others more recently seem to be trying to say the right things. The proof will be in how these corporations act on their word, not in the lingo they use.

Q: What other trends are you seeing on the horizon related to data privacy management?

Mike Britton: I’m hopeful that we see a trend where companies make an effort to reduce the impact of privacy and security risks with better data minimization practices and retention plans. If the data isn’t needed, don’t keep it. If you do need it, get rid of it when you no longer need it. This may sound like common sense, but storage is inexpensive, and people are often fearful of not having data even if they don’t need it.

Q: What expectations do Boards of Directors have regarding data privacy? 

Mike Britton: At Alliance Data, our Board understands the importance of privacy for our company. We present regular updates to the Board that include information on legislative changes and other privacy related news headlines. We discuss our company privacy objectives and evaluate how well we are achieving these measures. My prediction is that this topic will only gain in traction with our Board as the landscape changes and expectations for privacy continuously increase in the marketplace. 

Q: Why is data privacy important to Alliance Data?

Mike Britton: Beyond regulatory requirements, the biggest reason Alliance Data is a privacy-minded company is that we realize our clients and customers trust us to be responsible, fair and transparent in how we handle their data. Our mission is to be a leading global provider of data-driven marketing and loyalty solutions. Without a focus on data privacy, we couldn’t achieve our mission or provide our clients with the value we strive for.

 

For more information on Alliance Data’s approach to data privacy and operational excellence, click here.