Have you read any of the end-user license agreements of your online cloud accounts lately?
According to Jay P. Kesan, a law professor at the University of Illinois, the user is stuck without an option for privacy. In a recently published paper, Kesan and his co-authors looked at the privacy policies and terms-of-service agreements for a number of major cloud-based services; they discovered what they call a “non-negotiable approach.”
Agree to the Terms of the Service…or Else
“You’re essentially bartering with a lot of these service providers. You give them access to your information, and they aggregate this information to create a profile of you as a consumer,” Kesan says. “Most of these companies do not outright sell your information unless you tell them that it’s OK to do so. But by giving them your information in exchange for the service, you have essentially engaged in bartering. And what we want people to recognize is this is a business exchange.”
Kesan and his partners make a good point for analytics enthusiasts. We need to know what’s being done with our data; we need to look for ways to keep our customers’ data secure. Gartner says that “…through 2015, 80% of IT procurement professionals will remain dissatisfied with SaaS contract language and protections that relate to security.”
How to Get Analytics to the Cloud
So, with that picture painted, what are you to do when looking to move analytics to the cloud? The answer is twofold: You have to think about the customers’ data you are analyzing as well as your own company and personal data.
Here are some recommendations for working with a cloud analytics platform provider:
Annual third-party security audits are a must. Gartner recommends, at a minimum, that your vendor receive an annual third-party security audit and that you can have an “out” in the event of a cloud security breach.
Stay up to speed with product updates and security notices. Sure, those support emails aren’t the most interesting reads, and software updates have a cost attached as well as a time factor, but they protect your data.
Offer and look for the option to remove your personal data “from use by marketers.” Some organizations voluntarily do this, but not all. Be sure there’s a focus on that with your vendors and for your customers.
Look for a cloud analytics provider that offers transparency in its terms of service. For instance, Kesan cites the fact that cell phone numbers became portable because cell phone carriers were required to allow customers to move their numbers. The result was that companies had to focus on customer retention.
The bottom line: Protecting and serving customers should be every company’s aim, especially when it comes to privacy.
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