Online consumer data collection refers to efforts by businesses to gather information regarding their potential consumer base. Through various means, this can include the acquisition of information such as:
- Consumer contact information
- Location of the consumer
- The consumer’s e-mail or website
- Social media activity of a consumer
- Sales habits and search habits of potential customers
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provides many guidelines regarding consumer protections and data collection; state laws also provide strict regulation as well.
What Types of Legal Issues are Associated with Consumer Data Collection?
There are various legal issues associated with consumer data collection; most of these revolve around the consumer’s privacy. Some common consumer data legal issues include:
- Obtaining consumer data through the use of fraud, deception, or unfair business practices
- Selling or distributing consumer data without their knowledge or permission (even if the data was obtained legally)
- Negligent storing of consumer data
- Unauthorized use of data that is protected by intellectual property laws
- Use of consumer data that would constitute a breach of contract
- Issues regarding data relating to a child or minor
These types of legal issues can result in consequences for the business, such as fines, a suspension or loss of business license, or a private lawsuit for damages caused by illegal data collection practices.
How can my Business Avoid Issues Regarding Consumer Data Collection?
There are several steps that businesses can take to avoid legal issues related to consumer data collection. For instance, the business can post their data collection methods and policies on their website or at their place of business. They can also allow more transparent data storage policies and allow consumers to view what type of information and data is being stored. Lastly, they can provide “opt-in” or “opt-out” choices that allow the consumer to select whether or not they will be subject to data collection practices.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for Help with Consumer Data Collection Laws?
Online consumer data collection practices are heavily regulated by both state and federal laws. You may need to hire a business lawyer in your area if you have any questions or legal issues relating to consumer data collection. Your attorney can provide you with legal research to determine what your business can and can’t do with regards to data collection. If you need to file a claim or appear in court, your lawyer can provide you with representation during those processes as well.