The future of compliance

The Dark Art of Compliance Predictions5 min read

We all like to know what the future holds… well, sometimes.  We should all be interested what is going to influence organisations to step up to the challenge of compliance.  So, I checked my guts, a nearby crystal ball and some rare tea-leaves and here are my compliance predictions for the next 12 months.

A more savvy consumer

The recent Data Protection ‘revolution’ has forced organisations to review why, what and how they use personal data. Whilst considering the General Data Protection Regulation and the UK Data Protection Act 2018, companies have had to become more transparent and clear about their activities.  This will appeal to some consumers.  It is another measure which potential customers can use to judge whether they which to use or work with an organisation.

The ethical stance of an organisation is also taking a place in decision making.  Do they use palm oil? Is it plastic and, if so, can I recycle it? Is this locally made? Are workers paid fairly?  These are all questions that are on the rise and influence consumers.

Community groups step up to their compliance challenge

It’s easy to focus on big business as having the largest impact on compliance.  On the other end of the spectrum are small community, not-for-profit groups which have to work with the same regulations but don’t have the resources or capacity.  Many are already realising that they need to give better attention to Health and Safety, Safeguarding and Data Protection and this needs to become the norm.

Whether the ICO would spend any time either enforcing or assisting this type of organisation is yet to be seen.  However, the “more savvy consumer”, especially parents, will force community groups to take some time to focus on these important matters.

The continued rise of the ethical culture

Some larger organisations have already realised that having strong and attractive ethics in a business can drive better employee satisfaction, attract better recruits , help customer retention and deliver sustained growth.  Embedding compliance practices across all staff and down the supply chain takes effort but can significantly improve efficiency, costs and customer experience.

Are we going to see all companies adopt high-brow ethicals policies? Not likely.  Will we see those that take an more ethical approach perform better in the marketplace?  Now that is a possibility.

Use of social media changes

Recent news reports and fines relating to Facebook, the awareness of how social media can use personal data has already started to grow.  Some of my friends are “taking breaks” from certain platforms.  Some are deleting their accounts.  Far too many, who have left their social media accounts untouched for some time, have not reviewed their privacy and security and, therefore, are leaving historical data unprotected.

This is a hope, more than a prediction admittedly, but people should take the time to look at their social network “footprint” and take the time and effort required to make sure their are only sharing posts with those that they want to see them.

As an example, Facebooks facial recognition options is an interesting dilemma. Should you turn it off as you don’t want to provide that kind of processing rights to Facebook? Or should you turn it on and see if there are any undesirable images of you floating around the internet without your knowledge? (Lots of articles on this).

Suffice to say, we are in a period of transition with marketeers trying to access your newsfeed as the platforms implement more stringent measures whilst try to find new revenue from those that used to promote for free through sharing.  Watch this space!

Digital imagery awareness

Infographic: Smartphones Cause Photography Boom | Statista

2018 will see us take 1.8 Trillion images on cameras and smartphones.  Bet you’re in at least one – and if not, you’ll be on CCTV somewhere.  The rise of digital image capture in the context that your image is personal data will certainly need some attention.

If you don’t have permission to publish a picture with someones image in it should you obscure the recognisable features.  Consider that it isn’t just faces, could be a number plate, tattoo or something else that could identify them.

Technologies to address this will need to embedded in publishing sites.  It may also be necessary to take greater care getting consent to use peoples images in marketing campaigns.

You will find more infographics at Statista

Self-preservation still a huge driver

As much as we would like to see organisations becoming ethically responsible and compliance focused, this is unlikely.  Many will continue to do the bare minimum to ensure that they don’t get caught out.  As long as organisations see compliance as a threat and not an opportunity we will perpetuate the self-preservation mentality and miss out on the benefits the alternative brings.

Regulators finding new ways to enforce

Where regulators do not have a regular interaction with a business, such as payroll reporting, then they need to establish different ways to enforce the required standard.

You would expect a regulator to get involved because of an incident or complaint.  However, unannounced ‘spot checks’ due to industry, geography or for training are now on the rise.  With a law like the Data Protection Act 2018, the Information Commissioners Office could employ on-line analysis tools, even Artificially Intelligent readers that could read websites and learn what an adequate privacy notice looks like or if a consent statement is fulfilling the minimum requirements.  That could significantly change the attitude and approach of organisations.

In conclusion

Predictions? Guesses? Hopes?  Probably all covered above.  It is enough to say that the regulatory and standard compliance challenge is not going anywhere.  In fact it is growing on a weekly basis, especially if you include best practice, official guidance, case law and media frenzies.

The question is ” Are you going to embrace it or fear it?”

Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future. – J F Kennedy

Got any ethical or compliance predictions I should have included?  Please comment below.

 

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