Experts @SXSW Ask If Privacy By Design Makes A Company More Likeable

Large companies like General Motors and Sony have a slew of experts in the background assuring that legal privacy policies are in place, but a handful of companies at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival said they think not enough companies make the legalese easy for consumers to read and understand. They believe consumers should tell the truth when they check the box indicating they read and understood the company's privacy policy.

Even before the product gets built, shipped and into the hands of consumers, apps, advertising campaigns, services, and hardware should come fully equipped with a privacy agreement that consumers can understand. "If transparency and clarity are your company's goal, how do you think about privacy as an app developer?" said Deepti Rohatgi, head of policy at Lookout. "Think of your privacy policy as a product and build it the same way."

Rohatgi, who spent time at Yahoo creating a mobile behavioral targeting opt-out feature, developed an open-source app for building a privacy policy with a prototype, putting the open-source code on GitHub. Any app developer can download the source code for free.



The prototype Rohatgi built is based on the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) multi-stakeholder network process on how to build a short-form privacy policy. The policy requires icons that consumers click through that explain what, why and when the company collects and shares specific data about users.

A/B testing should also become part of the development process for privacy policies on all campaigns, apps, and hardware. Surveys done to test Lookout's policy showed it helped consumers trust the company more with their personal information. It didn't change the percentage of the people who would recommend the company's services and products, but it did make it more likeable.

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