Complying with Privacy Legislation - an Opportunity for Organisations

It is difficult for organisations to change the way they communicate electronically with customers.  For the past twenty years technology and advertising models have lead organisations down the path of treating customers as cows to be milked rather than customers with whom to engage.  Big Data and the efforts to guess the needs of customers through personalisation has paradoxically lead to de-personalisation because it works by categorising people. Privacy Laws give organisations a once in a generation chance to move back to treating customers as partners in the exchange of goods and services.  The Australian Privacy Laws in particular have given organisations an opportunity to move to a true personalisation model of interacting with customers. Each customer can be treated as a unique person rather than a stereotype based on age, sex, income, ethnicity and occupation.  The Australian Legislation achieves this by allowing customers to suggest how they would like to view their personal information and to specify an electronic agent to facilitate the interaction. Organisations can choose to give customers access in other ways but they must justify their choice if it is different to that requested by the customer.

Welcomer has been designed to fill the role of an electronic agent acting on behalf of both parties.  The underlying premise of Welcomer is to provide a way for organisations to give customers the same access to their personal information as the personnel within the organisation.  This makes sense from an organisational point of view as they only have one way for data to be viewed. It builds trust in the customer as they know the organisation has nothing to hide.

To that end Welcomer is approaching the Privacy Officers of organisations who have strong Privacy Policies with a proposal to strengthen their Privacy Policies even further. This is achieved by treating customers as the same as Organisational staff with respect to access to personal information.

Following is an outline of an email we are sending to Privacy Officers after we have viewed their Privacy Policies and we agree that the organisation has a strong policy.

From Welcomer To Organisation X

Dear Sir/Madam,

I have just read your privacy policy  xxxxx.  Please let me congratulate you on your policy.  It conforms closely with our own policy and with best practice.

An area of difficulty for all organisations is giving access to individuals. From your policy you state

"12. Access to, and correction of, personal information

We will take reasonable steps to make sure that the personal information we collect, hold, use or disclose is accurate, complete and up to date. If your personal details change, such as your address or phone number, please contact us on xxxxx to update your details.

Following a request, we will provide you with a copy of any personal information which we hold about you in accordance with our obligations under the Privacy Act. We may charge a fee for retrieving this information, in which case we will inform you of the fee in advance of providing the information.

In the first instance, we will ask you to provide some of identification, such as your driver's licence, to ensure that you have the right to access the information."

Our business - Welcomer - has been working on ways to assist organisations give individuals access to their own personal information. Welcomer provides a service to "automate" access while providing security and protection of organisational data.  The Welcomer service can be used by both internal staff and external customers.

The service is low cost, easy to deploy and operate, and can be implemented incrementally with little change to existing systems.  It can be started with internal staff and moved to external customers once it has proved robust and secure.

There are many potential side benefits of the approach.  These include the capacity to seamlessly move personal information with other organisations via the customer, a reduction in fraud and identity theft, and a simpler user experience.

Welcomer is based around the idea of personal cloud where your organisation's data is part of a person's personal cloud. The system uses FIDO (Fast ID Online) as the first factor authentication method so removing the need for usernames/passwords while still allowing them if it leads to a better user experience.

If you are interested in finding out more please reply with some times and a place for a face to face meeting with a Welcomer representative.

Yours Sincerely,


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