Sharing my information is something I don’t take lightly. As a business owner I find there are several channels where I don’t have much choice if I want to have an online presence. It’s a tradeoff and it’s one that for the most part I’m okay with. However, I find that more and more organizations are taking increasing advantage of this collection of information. Since when does buying batteries at Radio Shack require an email address and Postal Code. Or renting a tool from Home Depot require full address and birth date when a credit card is on file? That’s enough info for a credit check!

Privacy is different from security. It’s not about securing your data; it’s about protecting your right to not share your information. Although often paired with security, privacy is the part that we as consumers have control over.

The request for information is constant. Online job applications, retail purchasing, web searches, and downloading content are a few obvious requests. Sometimes these can be blocked or declined, but sometimes information is collected and we don’t know why they need it, how they use it, or where it’s stored.

Websites will often track your movements online, specifically on their website, to help identify issues with content paths, etc. They may also look at the words you typed into the search engine to find us or the URL of the page you were on before you clicked to our website. This information is useful because it helps make sure that the people who are finding them are really looking for what is provided. The most common of these is Google Analytics, but they have edited their privacy too in recent years.

Programmatic marketing, a hot trend in 2015, can often not use personal information (historical data) but rather algorithms that buy ads on the website as soon as you land there. Personal data isn’t required to put the ad in front of a potential client. However, marketers should discuss privacy issues with these media firms to ensure they agree with the tactics and tech they are using to provide their services. To argue the other side, it’s also been said that this type of tech could encourage spammers and other fraudulent activity. Many don’t trust the tech because they can’t properly track it. Both sides should be considered because no matter where you stand consumer rights still apply

My point in this post is to encourage those that have control to consider the privacy and rights of others. Look beyond the Canadian standards for privacy and web analytics and think about why you are collecting the data, what you’re using it for, and  if the consumer knows you’re doing it.

Carolyn Bergshoeff is the founder of WindWater Marketing, a small business b2b marketing firm based out of Toronto, Canada. She works with her clients to ethically market to their ideal prospects.