Privacy comes of age during COVID: PR and infrastructural lessons from rapid consumer shift

by | Feb 12, 2021 | Covid-19, Public Relations

It’s not like data privacy wasn’t a big issue in the old world, but in the age of COVID, with the quick shift to remote work and the need to access people’s health info, it’s never been more front-and-center on consumers’ minds—which is why it must be front-and-center on the strategic agendas for brands and businesses, finds new research from Cisco.

The company’s newly released 2021 Data Privacy Benchmark Study, its fourth annual look into corporate privacy practices worldwide, reveals the enhanced importance of privacy protections during the pandemic—and increasing benefits for businesses that adopt strong privacy measures. Their survey analyzed the responses of 4,400 security and privacy professionals across 25 countries and explored attitudes towards privacy legislation and the emergence of privacy metrics being reported to executive management.

Privacy comes of age during COVID: PR and infrastructural lessons from rapid consumer shift

At a time of disruption and uncertainty due to the pandemic, people have been suddenly expected, and at times required, to share their personal information to help curtail the spread of COVID-19. At the same time, people have shifted much of their lives online, accelerating a trend that normally would have taken years. These mass-scale shifts in human interaction and digital engagement presented many challenging data privacy issues for organizations who aim to follow the law, stop the spread of the pandemic, while also respecting individual rights. Consumers and the general public are growing increasingly concerned about how their personal data is being used.

Privacy comes of age during COVID: PR and infrastructural lessons from rapid consumer shift

Other key findings from the report:

Privacy is much more than just a compliance issue as businesses now see it as a fundamental human right and a mission-critical C-suite priority

  • 60 percent of organizations say they weren’t prepared for privacy and security requirements involved in the shift to remote work
  • 93 percent of organizations turned to their privacy teams to help navigate these challenges
  • 87 percent of consumers expressed concerns about the privacy protections of the tools they needed to use to work, interact and connect remotely
  • 90 percent of organizations now reporting privacy metrics to their C-suites and boards

There is a clear shift in the market towards standardizing privacy as a non-negotiable requirement when digitizing and advancing business objectives

  • More than 140 jurisdictions have now passed omnibus privacy laws, and nearly 80% of respondents found these laws to have a positive impact

Privacy comes of age during COVID: PR and infrastructural lessons from rapid consumer shift

Most people are fine with sharing health information for workplace safety and pandemic response, but are uncomfortable with other uses such as research

  • 57 percent supported employers using data to help make workplaces safe, while less than half supported location tracking, contact tracing, disclosing information about infected individuals, and using individual information for research

Privacy and the larger cybersecurity ecosystem will play a key role in the road to economic growth and COVID-19 pandemic recovery

  • As economies and communities begin to recover, many important challenges will arise that will test how governments, companies, and individuals collect, manage and protect personal data while balancing individual rights with public interest

Privacy investment continues to be attractive, with 75 percent of organizations seeing significant business value in terms of mitigating security losses, enhanced agility and innovation, improved operational efficiency, and improved customer loyalty and trust

  • Over one-third of organizations are getting benefits at least twice their investment

Privacy comes of age during COVID: PR and infrastructural lessons from rapid consumer shift

“Privacy has come of age—recognized as a fundamental human right and rising to a mission-critical priority for executive management,” said Cisco vice president and chief privacy officer Harvey Jang, in a news release. “And with the accelerated move to work from anywhere, privacy has taken on greater importance in driving digitization, corporate resiliency, agility, and innovation.”

Read the full report here.

Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 17 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richard.carufel@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter