Talking Privacy with TRUSTe MD EMEA

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At the RSA Europe conference in Amsterdam, I had the chance to meet the newly appointed MD EMEA at TRUSTe, a data privacy management company.

With a background in the ad tech space, Ken Parnham, an instantly likeable ‘say it how it is’ type of guy explains his move to TRUSTe by telling me that “somebody needs to protect the consumer.”

Quick to point out that TRUSTe is not a security company but instead a “compliancy company that enables marketers”, Parnham explained why TRUSTe is so important in today’s market. “People are becoming more concerned with privacy and I really believe that data is becoming a currency.” TRUSTe, he said, enables marketers to collect and use data but in accordance with compliance and regulations.

Their prospective client base is “anyone that collects and uses data”, but notable current clients include Apple, Nike and Citi Bank. These clients benefit from a combination of TRUSTe technology (cookie scanners) and consultancy.

The main driver for clients, Parnham admitted, is compliance and legislation, although ethical concerns and generating new business are also drivers.

“We want to enable data sharing and allow marketers to unlock data, but within compliance. The key is transparency and having a policy.” Laws are there to protect people, said Parnham. “The laws are adequate for where we are now, but they need constant reviewing.”

We talked about the Right to be Forgotten and Parnham is clear in his positivity. “It’s definitely a good thing. If you want to get off the grid, you should be able to. In fact it should be much easier to do so.”

Awareness over tracking, Parnham insisted, needs to be improved, and he deemed “everyone” responsible for this, including the consumer who should “demand more”.

In reference to the cookie directive, he suggested that communication could have been a little better. “Sometimes a small amount of information causes a panic if not explained properly. Perhaps when this came into play the consumer needed a little more, but that’s just my opinion”, he stated.

In a recent TRUSTe report, ‘2013 UK Consumer Data Privacy Study: Mobile Edition’, 76% of smartphone users surveyed won’t download an app they don’t trust. “People are becoming more clued up about privacy after the summer of Snowden.”

When asked how different generations perceive privacy, Parnham answered “Younger people are less likely to be concerned – without experience comes ignorance. The older generation is more concerned – they’re still using shredders. When you’re young, exposure is a good thing.”

Although he has only been in the role for less than a month, Parnham’s objective at TRUSTe is clear: Expansion. Where? Germany, France, Scandinavia and the Netherlands, and then Africa. “The growth of the smartphone in Africa makes this a target market”, he said.

For more information on TRUSTe, click here.


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