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Governments worldwide have been tightening data protection laws in response to major data breaches, drawing attention once again to data privacy. In Australia, the Attorney General’s Department recently reviewed the Privacy Act to reform the country’s privacy law, clarifying what information should be protected and equipping regulators with more options to enforce privacy breaches.

Speaking at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit 2023 in Sydney, Richard Addiscott, senior director analyst at Gartner, emphasized that impending regulatory changes and the government’s renewed focus on privacy send a clear signal to organizations to protect customer data better. He also noted that there are opportunities for businesses to leverage privacy enhancements from the past years to strengthen their operations.

Gartner predicts that by 2024, modern data privacy regulations will encompass consumer data, but less than 10% of organizations will have successfully weaponized privacy as a competitive advantage. Lisa Neubauer, advisor in Gartner’s security and risk management practice, explained that organizations with privacy programs will be able to comply with regulations, avoid fines and reputational damage from data breaches, and build trust with stakeholders.

To leverage data privacy as a competitive advantage, organizations need to develop a new approach to incentivize transparency, trustworthiness, and customer control over data usage and sharing. Neubauer recommended that companies proactively seek out customers’ perspectives on privacy, ensure their privacy program aligns with their business targets, and use privacy as a prospect conversation tool to enhance their customer value proposition.

As trust becomes critical to brand reputation, organizations must recognize that their customers are more mindful of sharing their data. By making privacy a key part of their customer value proposition, companies can motivate buyers, who are willing to pay a premium for a product that they believe will care best for their data.

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner’s latest report on notifiable data breaches showed a 26% increase in breaches in the second half of 2022, including large-scale breaches at Optus and Medicare that affected millions of customers.

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