Wise Counsel

Wise Counseling

Caught in crisis of other's making puts emphasis on culture

The current NSA-driven crisis offers few hand-holds for those caught in its draft.  It will continue to be driven by a cycle of government action and public reaction, potentially without any real end but exhaustion.  Everyone else is a bystander hoping to be judged not-guilty.

Telecommunications and Internet companies should refrain from drawing lines in the sand (which shift when courts rule they should) or circling the wagons (it is government that manages such interstate commerce) or even just saying no (a position can change every four or eight years). 

In this particular crisis, consumer confidence is built on a shared agreement that everything than can be done is being done.  It is the culture of a company that offers the best platform for this.  It is the performance of a company that offers the best evidence.

  • Be clear that legal requests must and will be met.  But assure consumers that all requests will get rigorous review.  If they are misdirected, they will be fought.

  • Add the number of requests the company gets to the quarterly earnings release so as to show it as a routine element of business operations.

  • Be clear that consumer data is well-protected, no matter who seeks unauthorized intrusion.

  • Be clear that consumer data drives better service and show some examples of how collecting a consumer’s data delivers value to that consumer.

  • Make data collection, retention, use, access and deletion practices clear in an accessible privacy policy.

Even without the current crisis, the increased use of data and consumer awareness of its collection make such practices prudent for any company.  Think Target, Neiman Marcus, Snapchat or any of the hundreds of other companies who show up in an online search for “data breach;” even Google shows up in that Google search.

It is understood that reputation runs a bit behind reality and right now the reality of public unrest over government data collection and use practices has hurt the reputation of telecommunications and Internet companies.  But by sticking to their principles, companies can change reality and improve their reputation.

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