For example, in 2014, as Sydney was gripped by fear after a gunman took hostages in a standoff against the police, Uber unwittingly quadrupled its fares for people rushing out of the affected area. It backtracked within an hour after complaints of Uber taking advantage of a desperate situation, but the reputational damage was done.
Customers and regulators are also paying more attention to how businesses use customer data. In another Accenture survey - Guarding and growing personal data value - 79 percent of 600 respondents believe that their customers are more aware of data privacy, and 67 percent believe that their customers are taking measures to protect that privacy, e.g., changing passwords more frequently and opting out of some services.
And in an unprecedented move this year, Singapore's data protection watchdog meted out a US$37,000 fine against a karaoke operator, which had leaked the personal information of 317,000 customers after its systems were hacked. Its IT vendor was also fined US$7,400 for not updating security systems.
If businesses fail to address data and digital ethics, regulators may impose their own rules and legal framework, which then leads to higher compliance cost.
The concept of privacy by design is another area that is taking shape, where privacy standards are embedded in the product design and technology from the start. For example, Apple realised it had to be transparent in how it used and secured customer data when its iCloud service was breached in 2014. The changes made afterwards are reflected in the company's new platforms such as Apple Pay and HealthKit, which exemplify this trusted-by-design approach that have strong security and ethics baked in.
Digital trust is more important than ever. And it is built on how well a business secures the data it collects, how committed it is to being transparent about its practices, and whether it is seen to be behaving ethically. Those that fail to earn trust in how they collect, store, and control data will not only lose business and face possible legal ramifications, they will also fail to reach their full potential.
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