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Building for the future of user data rights, and what that could look like

Ben Brook
July 27th, 2020 · 4 min read

When we talk about the benefits of Transcend to a potential partner, it’s a given that we’ll cover the core business metrics, such as reduced data subject request fulfillment times, eliminated engineering workloads, solved legal bottlenecks, and more. But we’ll also talk about something much more fundamental to our journey and vision as a company, and the reason we continue to build day in and day out: consumer trust.

We believe that trust starts with two core principles: transparency and control. That’s why we’re building to put consumers everywhere in control of their data. Individuals should be made aware that a company is collecting and using information about them, and users should then be able to make choices about that data.

It sounds simple, but it’s actually an incredibly complex and technical challenge. One that for us started as a personal challenge, then led to us building an engineering-first infrastructure for companies to provide seamless data control to their users as the first step on this journey.

It’s easy to see the risks of what happens when people are not in control of their data. As the last decade has shown, a lack of data privacy can lead to harmful consequences, from behavioral manipulation and mass surveillance, to social and economic inequality.

It doesn’t have to be this way. There are positive signs that the tide is turning on data rights and this progress looks only set to continue, spurred on by Europe’s continued evolution of privacy legislation, the California Consumer Privacy Act, and more. But simply speaking about data privacy in terms of legislation and compliance misses an important opportunity.

Privacy is not merely a cost of business. Trust and control go hand in hand, and leading in the area of user data privacy is a business opportunity worth so much more than fines. It has the potential to impact brand perceptions, consumer preference, and your bottom line. We believe granting your users modern data rights today is good business, plain and simple.

Instant access, intuitive controls, clear and simple comprehension and ubiquity

When it comes to putting users in true control of their data, the good news is that technology, when harnessed in the right way, continues to chip away at the challenge. And while regulation has sketched the outlines, it’s through leveraging this technology that we can see a complete picture of how modern data rights should work.

What do we see as the components of modern data rights?

  • Instantaneous and secure access to data. This is the core of our platform today. Consumer access to see, manage, store, change, or delete their data should not take weeks, days, even hours—it should be instantaneous. There should be no delay or obstructions between what is ultimately a consumer’s property. If you can place an order with Amazon in under a minute, it’s reasonable to expect the same courtesy when it comes to something far more personal like your data.

  • Always having a choice. We are building toward a world where the easy and intuitive path is to give consumers a genuine choice. The fears of data brokers and data misuse or manipulation will diminish in the sunlight of better transparency, accountability, and immediate data access for consumers through the entire lifecycle of their data. Consumers will no longer be forced to sacrifice important elements of their privacy through the manipulative practice of “all or nothing” terms of service or product dark patterns. Your engagement with your privacy choices will be contextual and seamless. Doing away with the “skim and sign away” privacy consents, and weaving data privacy into the fabric of the way a product works.

  • No law degree required to exercise your rights. Consumers shouldn’t need in-depth training to understand and exercise their rights granted under the law. Instead, privacy policies will be graded by their user comprehension and clarity. The best examples will flow through a product experience, seamlessly educating users, as opposed to appearing as a wall of legal text. By providing a clearer understanding of data rights, and easy-to-find and use tools to exercise them, companies will not only encourage greater trust from their consumers, but also transform privacy into a net positive issue for brand loyalty.

  • For everyone, everywhere. Rapid innovation in engineering and technology products can level the playing field for all companies, organizations, and groups to offer users a better data privacy experience. With innovation, businesses of all shapes and sizes, not just those with massive engineering teams or those dealing with a crisis, will be able to proactively build data privacy into the core of their business. We are starting that path today by building the engineering tools companies need to better manage their data privacy. And it’s crucial we work to get this principle right, as the magnitude of data collected and processed only continues to grow.

We believe instant access, intuitive controls, clear and simple comprehension, and ubiquity are the fundamental building blocks of what the future of data privacy looks like. There are obvious complexities and risks associated with delivering on this future state, but it’s clear to us that most people—from businesses to individuals—want a simple and robust way forward on data privacy. We believe that cautious optimism, combined with innovative engineering, can guide us in making the right decisions to get there.

The reassuring part is that when data privacy and technology come together in positive ways—ways that prioritize the user experience—it provides a win-win for both consumers and business. We’re already seeing those signals today.

If you’d like to learn about how Transcend can give your users a modern data privacy experience, contact our team here.

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