Posted: December 19, 2016
Max Levchin, a PayPal co-founder, said “The world is now awash with data and we can see consumers in a lot clearer ways.” Now, more than any other time in history, organizations are collecting and analyzing consumer data to determine purchasing habits, trends, and customer experience. While organizations are collecting data on consumers, regulators have recognized the power of data and are beginning to collect some of their own.
Today, regulators can see if organizations are complying with the regulations in clearer ways. Regulators are taking steps to make it much easier and interactive for consumers to submit complaints and report potential violations online. For example, in May of this year, the FCC released a public database of complaints from consumers. Complaints include billing issues, “cramming”, VOIP issues, and of course TCPA and Do Not Call (DNC) complaints. The data is sortable and searchable. It’s messy and maybe not the cleanest look, but it’s a start for the FCC.
Further, the state of California recently released an online tool that allows consumers to report organizations that are violating CalOPPA. It also allows consumers to submit general comments or questions. The California AG is aiming to make it easier for consumers to submit complaints about companies. This is aimed at ensuring companies remain transparent about the data they collect from consumers and how the data is used and shared.
For years, the FTC has allowed consumers to submit DNC complaints and potential Telemarketing Sales Rule (TSR) violations via an online web form. Once the complaints reach a certain threshold, the FTC begins to investigate the organization. Florida is another state that makes it easy for consumers to submit complaints about organizations and its potential violation of state DNC rules.
Not only have regulatory bodies harnessed the power of technology to compile complaint data about organizations, but the private market has as well. There are several dozens of apps that allow consumers to block phone numbers, report potential violations and stock pile complaint data. There are also mobile apps that allow consumers to submit TCPA complaints directly to attorneys for potential class action law suits.
The information age is here and organizations, consumers and regulators are data savvy. Unlike any generation before them, this generation of consumers hit the ground running with technology and being aware of what companies are collecting about them. Consumers are also more aware of their privacy rights offered by various regulatory bodies.
Organizations must ensure they are complying with the various rules and regulations at the state, federal and international level as to avoid any penalties for non-compliance. Data is great at providing insight into a consumer’s activity; however, organizations must remember that both private and public entities are collecting data to gain insight into how the organization is behaving. Organizations should harness the public complaint databases and track complaints internally in order to remain aware of any issues in their compliance and privacy posture. For more information, please feel free to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Matt Dumiak is Senior Associate at CompliancePoint focused on U.S. and international direct marketing compliance regulations. He works with clients in a variety of industries and is dedicated to providing reliable and practical consulting services. Matt has earned a Certified Information Privacy Professional (CIPP/US) certification from the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP), a Customer Engagement Compliance Professional (CECP) certification from the Professional Association for Customer Engagement (PACE), and has a B.S. in Economics from Georgia College.