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Guide to Good Manners Online: It’s Transparent

Earlier in December, Canada’s Federal Privacy Commissioner issued new business guidelines for companies that track and target consumers through their online activity.

The intent of the new guidelines is to put complete control of tracking into the hands of consumers, by giving them a clear choice to opt out from being tracked. In doing so, Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said, marketers can promote trust among consumers.

I hold the same position: In order to enter into a value-exchange with consumers, and ultimately foster a long-term relationship through that value exchange, you need to gain the consumer’s trust. To me, one of the best ways to win that trust and commitment is by being permission based. In many ways, it’s just good manners.

Highlights of the bill include:

* Users must give consent to being tracked.
* They must know why their personal information is being collected.
* Trackers must limit how long they hold data.
* Sensitive information such as medical or health data should not be collected.
* Marketers cannot track children or use tracking technologies that can’t be turned off.

These guidelines I am sure will all seem reasonable to consumers. As marketers, we should make them reasonable too. For years my company’s policy has been to act in a transparent, clear and progressive manner when it comes to our web activities. As a result, 99.99 percent of our 10 million members actively agree to receive our marketing materials.

Where does your company fit in? Are these guidelines something your organization could live by? It may seem risky, but I’d venture to say the reward will be worth it.

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