Trending Now

Are We Moving Past Patchwork Privacy Laws?

It’s a crazy time to be a consumer. And a complicated time to be a marketer. (Which makes sense given what a crazy time it is to be an inhabitant of the planet at the moment, but that’s another story entirely.)

In addition to supply chain issues, inflation, “shrinkflation,” and general insanity, just about everything in consumer-land is up in the air when it comes to privacy and data. The patchwork of regulations has grown from just a few – GDPR in 2016 and California’s CCPA of 2018 are the first two I remember, though I’m sure there were other early entrants, as well — to laws from New York, Connecticut, Canada, and many other jurisdictions.

If that’s not enough for you, there is Apple’s recent move to offer iOS users the ability to opt out of advertiser tracking. And there is Brave, the privacy-focused browser, working hard to protect their users’ data, even making efforts to outfox those marketers who are trying to circumvent the privacy choices browsers have made.

Though these developments are generally good news for consumers — both B2B and B2C — they create complexity for marketers. And the overall confusion isn’t good for anyone. It breeds mistrust.

None of this means everyone in the world will suddenly be running for their local retail storefronts to research and make purchases. Or, in the case of B2b buyers, dial up a salesperson for every purchase they’re considering.

For one thing, many of those retail establishments no longer exist. And they certainly don’t have the breadth of product nor range of information that we’ve all become used to.

For another, many of us don’t live or work near retail options with the products we want. (A situation compounded by so many fewer of us heading to work in central business districts that include retail spaces to serve the office crowd.) Where does that leave us as marketers?

First and foremost, you must, as always, listen to what your audience is telling you. If privacy concerns and control of their data is important to them, they’ll let you know if you give them the opportunity to tell you.

Second, push for and pledge to support regulations that can be adopted broadly. State by state and city by city is not the way to go. Global regulations would be ideal, though at this point that’s a pipe dream.

You might consider doing what you can to get browser builders to get on board with real privacy controls and a standardized set of privacy protocols. One way to do this is to encourage your site visitors to use a browser that supports their control of their privacy choices. (Though as a tech guy, I’d hate to see us move back to the splintered browser world we had in the early days of the web, where websites had to be coded to detect and adjust based on which browser and operating system were being used.)

One more thing we can do: keep an eye on this legislation:

Bipartisan draft bill breaks stalemate on federal data privacy negotiations

It could be the beginning of the end for our current regulatory patchwork.

Andrew Schulkind

Since 1996, Andrew Schulkind has asked clients one simple question: what does digital marketing success look like, and how can marketing progress be measured? A veteran content marketer, web developer, and digital strategist, Andrew founded Andigo New Media to help firms find a more strategic and productive mix of tools that genuinely support online brand goals over time. With a passion for true collaboration and meaningful consensus, his work touches social media, search-engine optimization, and email marketing, among other components. He views is primary goal as encouraging engagement. Getting an audience involved in your story requires solid information architecture, a great user experience, and compelling content. A dash of common sense doesn’t hurt, either. Andrew has presented at Social Media Week NY and WordCampNYC, among other events, on content marketing and web-development topics. His technology writing appears on the Andigo blog, in a monthly column on, and for print and online publications like The New York Enterprise Report, Social Media Today, and GSG Worldwide’s publications LinkedIn & Business, Facebook & Business, and Tweeting & Business. Andrew graduated with a B.A. in Philosophy from Bucknell University. He engages in a range of community volunteer work and is an avid fly fisherman and cyclist. He also loves collecting meaningless trivia. (Did you know the Lone Ranger made his mask from the cloth of his brother's vest after his brother was killed by "the bad guys?")

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top Back to top