Why is Data Privacy so important for media companies in 2019? - Reuters News Agency

Why is Data Privacy so important for media companies in 2019?

After security issues around data privacy emerged last year, what can media companies do now to gain trust from consumers?

By  Clare Cavanagh | Feb 12, 2019

In 2007, ‘Data Privacy Day’ was declared by the Council of Europe as an annual occasion, initially named ‘European Data Protection Day’. It was created to raise awareness, and promote privacy and best practices in data protection.

What are the changes taking place and how can media companies react to these?


2018 was the ultimate year of ‘techlash’ – the modern term coined by The Economist in 2017. In the early stages of last year, there was much concern around the backlash against tech companies such as Google and Facebook. A vast number of users turned against these influential platforms as they gained infamy for being perceived as omnipotent and anti-competitive –– unwilling to face their wider responsibilities in society. Trust from their consumers was at risk and they were deemed to be undermining democracy, rather than championing it.

Facebook confirmed that they will be launching a Privacy and Data Use Hub, which will offer an approach for users to find data protection resources. It will include accessible information on ad products, and privacy principles to provide transparent and open clarification improvements to their privacy tools.

Google was reprimanded for being in violation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) due to their “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding regarding the ads personalisation.” To move forward, they will need to clarify their processes to consumers, asking for consent before sharing personal data. This may impact Google’s commercial model since it is based on ad personalization, however they’re reported to be “deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR.” It will be interesting to see the effect this will have on consumer trust.

The best of the rest

Investigative digital tools are making waves in bringing attention to those platforms in Silicon Valley. ProPublica’s recent study, involving a collection of 100,000 Facebook ads from 16,000 volunteers, has been focusing on political and trust strategies. This ad transparency project has been urged to be shutdown by Facebook executives, claiming that it “ isn’t about stopping publications from holding us accountable or making ads less transparent.

This is about preventing people’s data from being misused – our top priority.” Facebook has commented that their concern is about potential abuse or issues with these tools but ProPublica’s President, Richard Tofel says that “they have cited no evidence any such problems have resulted with our Political Ad Collector – and we know of none.” Debates continue around this within a democracy that demands the kind of journalism that the public has rights to

In response to the market power that Facebook and Google hold, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has produced a report which suggests that a new regulatory body should be set up to monitor the processes of these large digital networks. The ACCC chairman Rod Simms told The Guardian that while these platforms are at “risk of creating competitive or consumer harm, governments should stay ahead of the game and act to protect consumers and businesses through regulation.”

Media companies can build this message into their strategies as a main point to refer to every day until their audiences can believe that their own data is being safeguarded. There is concern about the large amount of data that is lacking control so this must be investigated in order to understand how it can be best tamed. In sharing initiatives such as The Ozone Project, which has involved News UK, Telegraph Media Group and The Guardian, media companies could succeed in a more personalised approach to provide trusted alternative advertising content options. Companies must be transparent to prove and ensure that the data they publish is absolutely genuine and that their tech processes are effective.

‘Data Privacy Day’ is a wake-up call to all industries as the stakes heighten this year and the digital world continues to grow. In twelve years, we have seen both extraordinary successes and disappointments in data security. As it continues to evolve, all media companies will be held accountable for their data protection services and should aim to produce and promote a positive and safe perspective on trust that all consumers to believe in.