The past year has only emphasized how critical technology is in keeping the world connected, informed, healthy and safe. Anne Toth, director of Alexa Trust at Amazon Alexa, spoke at a CES® 2021 session about the fact that many technology products that we had previously viewed as fun or convenient to have became integral and essential in the past year. And subsequently, consumer expectations have changed.
As consumers desire and expect more personalization and custom user experiences in their tech products, data and transparency implications must also be considered. For Big Tech companies with a global audience, worldwide regulations pose more challenges still.
Rising to the Challenge
Even with new privacy and trust considerations, companies don’t want user experience to falter.
One example is Twitter, whose mission is to provide a truly global experience. “[If I travel] from Japan to California to Europe, [I want] that experience to travel with me,” said Damien Kieran, chief privacy officer of Twitter. “Twitter is meant to be a place where I can join the global conversation. If my global conversation is limited to the data that’s in the 28 countries of Europe, that’s not a global conversation.”
Once you become that important to a person’s life, it’s just going to make it more essential for us to demonstrate the way we are raising the bar on privacy and transparency and trust for our customers.
DIRECTOR, ALEXA TRUST, AMAZON ALEXA
For products that integrate artificial intelligence and machine learning — a key focus area for Twitter — or that help users have important interactions or live independently, use cases inspire more discussion about how to provide more control and transparency to the user in terms of their data so they can trust the product.
“Once you become that important to a person’s life, in their daily interactions, it’s just going to make it more essential for us to demonstrate, again and again, over and over, the way we are raising the bar on privacy and transparency and trust for our customers,” Toth said.
How Europe Changed the Privacy Playbook
The introduction of the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) two years ago acted as a catalyst for countries all around the world to consider stricter privacy regulations. Consumer awareness about data transparency and privacy increased from the release of the law, in turn urging companies to adapt to these new standards to meet consumer needs.
In the short time since the release of GDPR, privacy services and features that consumers used to know very little about have made their way into many, if not most, products. New companies are also able to build operations with the expectation and understanding of data privacy and security regulations instead of retrofit services. These positive developments allow customers to safely trust the products and services they use.
As we head into 2021, Keith Enright, chief privacy officer at Google, said that companies in both the public and private sectors must work together to “advance the indisputable shared goal of providing the strongest possible protection for users online while recognizing that there are other values — we want to make sure we’re working with all the relevant communities so that we’re addressing all of those obligations.”
For these global tech powerhouses — and for companies everywhere — putting the customer first also means putting privacy and trust first.
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Guest Author: ANNE TOTH
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