1bringingConcerns about the safety of new services on the Internet are as much part of our virtual life as the carefree spread of personal data on social networks. Obviously, the tension between the need for openness on one hand, and security on the other hand, requires a new culture of privacy and trust in the Internet, and of course an appropriate political framework.

Shielding personal data from the social web

Since the combination of CRM with data from the social web is nowadays a key issue for future investments in virtually every industry, the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) decided to support the research project “Shielding privacy within CRM” this year which intends to develop a data protection component for social CRM infrastructure till 2015.

Until now, the field of social CRM  indeed has not really provided a lot of system support for the evaluation and design of privacy-compliant Social CRM activities and infrastructures. However, data protection officers, in-house lawyers and of course the users, need support tools to comply with the regulations, since case-by-case reviews of each activity or action are time-consuming and impractical.

Security risks in the limelight

In the next two years, a research team of CRM, social CRM and data protection experts will take care of the development of a software solution that bridges the privacy gap. The prototype that is planned to be developed will for the first time grant a wide-ranging look at used systems, such as social media monitoring tools. That way, companies get a chance to obtain transparency that could reveal, for instance, the leaking of personal data.

On the basis of this study, Sphere should help to uncover risks, security vulnerabilities and assist businesses in planning their activities. The privacy protection check guarantees consumers protection and security and intends to strengthen their trust in the corresponding company. Legally the latter operates properly with Sphere and increases the acceptance of its customers for the use of data from the social web.

For the first time, the market could then offer a solution that implements technical as well as procedural data protection in social CRM structures. Thus, the tool reduces the risk of data abuse, reputational damage and financial losses due to warnings.

Zeitgeisty privacy

Every society is forced to rebalance the relationship between freedom of information and privacy on the Internet, as a crisis of confidence in the Internet would dramatically worsen the entire climate of innovation.

Internet users must find an adequate level of privacy in different contexts, besides being able to evaluate risks properly and behave appropriately – and for this to  take place, ethics, legislation, economy and technology need to develop constantly.

We are looking forward to the outcome of this extremely interesting research project as it is absolutely zeitgeisty.

By Daniela La Marca