Don't kid yourself-consumers do pay attention to privacy

February 28, 2000

BY MICHAEL KRAUSS

This is one of an ongoing series on interactive marketing leaders who are doing things other marketers can learn from. They are not yet household names, but the executives we profile are laboring in the trenches today and will be in the headlines tomorrow. They're the emerging leaders of an emerging marketing discipline.

Name, rank and serial number: Bart Lazar, 38, partner, Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson in Chicago. Defended the first enforcement action brought by the Federal Trade Commission involving Internet privacy issues.

Mantra: "Do it right the first time."

Why business people should care about privacy: Because customers care. "You're developing a relationship with them. If customers know you care about them, it helps. Surveys show that people care if they see a privacy statement, and they care if your privacy statement's been approved by a third party, such as TrustE."

Why privacy is a big deal now: "Consumers have been signing off on credit card agreements for years that allow solicitations, (but) online is a little bit different because the solicitations can happen quicker."

The key lessons from the GeoCities case: "Play Boy Scout-be prepared. The GeoCities case began when "the FTC did an Internet surf day. They checked out the top 100 sites on the Internet… to see what kind of information each company collected from consumers and whether the sites had privacy statements." It ultimately boiled down to interpretations of (the) privacy statement." So, "Figure out what you're doing and then write a privacy statement that covers it. It's not expensive."

How the PC will act as protection: Lazar predicts that the computers of the future will include a privacy capability that will keep track of the types of information owners are willing to give out.

Closing advice: It can't be said often enough: "Make sure your privacy statement is clear, concise and accurate."

Michael Krauss is a partner with Diamond Technology Partners in Chicago.
He can be reached at news@ama.org.

 

 

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