Issues & Insights
Brian Katt

Data Privacy Day Holds Us All Accountable

We are more connected today than ever, but too often prioritize convenience over security and that is starting to catch up with us, especially when it comes to our personal data.

The first six months of 2019 saw more than 3,800 publicly disclosed breaches compromising a staggering 4.1 billion personal records. One step that organizations can take to combat these destructive statistics in 2020 is by supporting initiatives such as Data Privacy Day. Championed by the National Cyber Security Alliance, Data Privacy Day aims to inspire dialogue and empower individuals and companies to take action on consumer privacy.

One industry that is increasingly under attack from cybercriminals is retail, with hackers specifically targeting electronic payment systems. In fact, Macy’s recently suffered a data breach that compromised consumer payment data. The hackers stole the data from the “checkout” page on the retail giant’s website.

Each time a customer shops online or in a store, they are willingly disclosing important financial data, such as credit card information. Millions of people across the U.S. trust merchants with their data and expect it to be kept safe, which is why we need to hold retailers and companies that collect payment information accountable. It is their responsibility to implement updated technology that keeps our data safe. 

A 2019 study, conducted by Mercator Advisory Group, found that when shopping in stores, 43% of U.S. consumers prefer to use credit/charge cards, followed by 32% who prefer to use debit; only 17% opt for cash. The study also found that consumers reported more fraud on their credit cards in 2019 compared to 2018.

U.S. banks and card networks take this growing threat seriously and have gone to great lengths to develop and implement innovative technologies to combat fraud, such as tokenization, fingerprint and face identification. They also pioneered the development of EMV chip technology that has proven to be wildly successful – lowering counterfeit cases by 87%. Banks and card networks have proven they understand the need to prioritize privacy and have stepped up to the plate.

This past October, the major global networks launched the Secure Remote Commerce Standard which will power a “buy button” on retailer websites – a feature meant to be the online equivalent of the single payment terminal at a physical store. It will relieve participating retailers from liability and save them money and time by reducing the number of “abandoned carts” and freeing up space on the checkout pages of their websites. This will do for online security what EMV chip did for point of sale.

Yet, the strides that U.S. banks and card networks have made can only go so far without retailer involvement. According to the 2019 Thales Data Threat Report, nearly two-thirds of retailers reported experiencing a data breach and over a third indicated they were breached in the past year. The report also found that amidst this growing rate of data breaches, retailers are not increasing security spending.

The future of privacy rests in all of our hands. It is our collective responsibility to fight for better data privacy standards and demand that best practices are implemented in order to prevent future security breaches that impact our way of life. This Data Privacy Day, we encourage you to hold us all accountable when it comes to your data. 

Jeff Tassey is the chairman of the board of the Electronic Payments Coalition.

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Issues & Insights is run by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our goal is to bring our decades of combined journalism experience to help readers understand the top issues of the day. We’re doing this on a voluntary basis, because we believe the nation needs the kind of cogent, rational, data-driven, fact-based commentary that we can provide. 

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