Australia to lead the charge on the Privacy Debate

By ADMA

In a connected world more and more digital data will created, stored and shared. Consumers are already sharing incredible amounts about themselves through email, on social networking sites, and the list is growing. Sharing has become a daily routine in the online world. While new technologies and platforms constantly emerge; consumers are quickly accepting and adjusting faster than ever to these new forms of expression online. Individuals are becoming more open about what they share and with whom; something that wouldn’t have happened before the era of social networking. Social networking sites in turn are evolving to be more than just an enjoying pastime – they are becoming tools for people to express and shape their own identity. And it’s this identity that marketers use to market to them. An identity that defines who they are, and what their interests’ and dreams are. In the light of these new habits of sharing, the Australian Government has proposed a new privacy law to overcome the issues surrounding identifying people online. But what does this mean for marketers in the future?

A lot of people know that companies have the right to use their information. Yet consumers fail to make the connection between their personal information being tracked for marketing purposes; an example would be a personal email will have a correlating ad that appears on their screens. The concern from the Government is that people in general are not truly aware of what data mining means, whereby a company puts together the puzzle of a person’s life from fragmented pieces that are out there on the web and use it to market to them.

Privacy concern is a debate that is happening all over the world, however a prohibition on direct marketing would result in Australia being the only country in the world with such a prohibition. So what would clearer and tighter regulation of the use of personal information for direct marketing mean for us?

For one, third party data (which we have all used at times) would require opt-out information to be included in all marketing messages via all channels (including social media). This also includes marketing messages to customers and individuals that have opted-in. One worrying point is an option for individuals to liaise with a company under a pseudonym. This in turn would lead to issues with data quality and marketing relevance. As direct marketers, we have spent years trying to make sure we have targeted quality marketing that’s relevant to the customer, through the channel and time they want to receive it. Now it seems that we would be forced to take a step back to the batch and blast approach that we had so happily left behind.

In response to the changes, ADMA has held Privacy Briefings to provide members with an insight into the proposed new privacy law. On behalf of its’ members, ADMA has proposed a number of recommendations about the proposed new privacy law to the Attorney Generals Department in Canberra; recommendations that would balance out the concerns over privacy, yet enable us to remain relevant to the customer. The recommendations we’ve put forward include a rewording of the proposed ‘prohibition on direct marketing’ to permit direct marketing under specified circumstances. To be able to permit the use of third party data for marketing and advertising purposes, providing that organisations offer individuals direct access to a privacy policy through which they can manage their privacy preferences. And also to develop an industry Code of Conduct for marketers outlining best practice when using personal information for marketing purposes. The next step is that the proposed law is to be considered by both a House of Representatives and a Senate Committee. During both these processes, recommended amendments can be made to the legislation. ADMA will be making representation at both, and has established a Privacy Taskforce for companies that are interested in this issue.  We need you to act!  Industry feedback has been requested by 9th July and ADMA would like members to make a submission to show support for ADMA’s recommended amendments as well as outlining the impact the proposed restrictions will have on your future marketing and advertising. To assist you, ADMA has developed a draft submission that you can use for this purpose.

If you would like to submit your feedback and concerns to the Committee, in particular, how the new proposed privacy provisions will affect your business, please emailjodie.sangster@adma.com.au and request the draft submission.

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