It’s been a week since I got back from SxSW in Austin, and I still can’t believe how absolutely MASSIVE the coverage of privacy, personal data, and identity issues was at the conference. By my count, there were some two dozen sessions, including the Core Conversation I led, across a range of topics that are central to the principles of personal identity management (PIDM). 

Photo of PIDM Core Conversation courtesy of Doc Searls

Some of the most interesting takeaways from my perspective:

1.       We need a consumer bill of rights that’s defined and ratified mutually by individuals and industry. We need adoption convergence by both groups if PIDM is to succeed in a mutually beneficial manner.

2.       We need more cross-functional working groups that include marketers, policy wonks, technologists and consumer advocates. Regulators are simply not going to be able to address the needs and responsibilities of all parties, nor the practical and technological challenges this massive problem faces today.

3.       We desperately need guidelines and best practices for privacy policies, governance, and acceptable use of consumer data. By and large, most of the marketers and business people I spoke with WANT to do the right thing, but they’re just not sure what that means right now.

4.       “Privacy by design” is about to get very, very big. Everyone from programmers to interaction designers was talking about how their products are capturing and using customer data and wondering about how to protect, not just the data, but the user as well. This is a massive shift from even a couple of years ago, when the only people worried about the implications of data collection and storage were the legal guys.

5.       And finally, everyone – and I mean EVERYONE – was still talking about Target. That story has rocked the privacy and behavioral targeting world because it’s so deeply relatable. In fact, during my session, we had a very interesting debate about whether companies could be held responsible for injury or harm that results from this kind of targeting.

I’m incredibly excited to continue these conversations over the next year; I think our privacy, personal data, and PIDM research is extremely timely and relevant to everyone from CMOs to CI Pros to customer strategists.

If you’re interested in these issues as well, and are curious about what the future holds and how to prepare your organization for the coming paradigm shifts, I hope you’ll join my session at Forrester’s Customer Intelligence Forum in Los Angeles next month.