Data Privacy Day 2009!

You may not have heard but today, January 28, 2009, is Data Privacy Day. Folks across the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries are celebrating Data Privacy Day together for just the second time ever.

As a privacy advocate, of course I love the idea of Data Privacy Day. Other than International Talk Like A Pirate Day (September 19), this is my new, favorite holiday-that-I-don’t-get-the-day-off day.

I’ve enjoyed this years’ many annual predictions made for the email marketing industry (including those of Return Path’s own Matt Blumberg) this year, and while I enjoy those predictions, I never make any of my own. But, in the spirit of Data Privacy Day, I will predict that 2009 will be the year that email marketers truly recognize and embrace privacy as a critical component of their program success.

I’m not sure how bold of a prediction or statement that really is. I recognize that many of us in the email industry are already best practitioners when it comes to data protection and privacy issues. But, in a world where the online services landscape continues to evolve and shift with remarkable speed, in particular with social networks, younger demographics and the mobile marketplace – email marketers should be compelled to pay more attention to privacy concerns of their users. As consumers online continue to partake of current, new, free, and innovative web services in the market, they also expect very clear transparency regarding their user data and how it is used.

So, if you didn’t know it was Data Privacy Day around the world, it isn’t too late to celebrate and honor it. Here are a few simple suggestions:

  • Review your current privacy policies. Ensure they are up to date, valid, and most of all, that you “say what you do, and do what you say.” Verify your organization is properly supporting your statements.
  • Review your websites and make sure you clearly link to your privacy policy wherever you collect personal information online.
  • In addition to linking to your privacy policy, commit to maximum transparency with your users – meet the highest standards for consent and disclosure when collecting information from subscribers. Specifically set clear expectations for users about how their data is used and most importantly how it is shared
  • Review your email marketing campaigns and ensure you are including a link to your privacy policy in your email footer.
  • Be sure your messages are authenticated with all the formats (SPF, SenderID, Domain Keys and DKIM) that apply to the domains you mail. If you are a DMA member, you can use this handy registry to be sure you are properly authenticated – and in compliance with DMA member guidelines for authentication.
  • Get more ideas from the Association of Online Trust and Authentication.

Finally, put Data Privacy Day on your calendar, and next year, be ready for the events planned around the world and commit to participate in at least one. Sure, it may not be as fun as talking like a pirate all day, but you’ll feel great knowing your doing all you can to support privacy ideals in your business and for your customers.

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