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Companies should understand security and privacy issues: panelists

December 2, 2010

mobile-shoppingMIAMI – Mobile shoppers demand trusted standards and as options for mobile commerce expand and retailers start to leverage the platform’s unique functionalities, the industry might be in danger of ignoring vital security and privacy concerns.

Panelists at the MEF Americas 2010 Mobile Content and Commerce conference discussed the current mobile commerce security and privacy issues and what standards need to be adopted to protect customer data. The session was moderated by Sanjaya Krishna, information communications and entertainment principal at KPMG LLP and vice chairman of MEF North America.

“I think of it as a house,” said Dean C. Garfield, president/CEO of Information Technology Industry Council, Washington. “You can live in a very private neighborhood, but your house might not be very secure.

“If you live in a place that doesn’t have a lot of security, you may want to buy extra layers to protect yourself and [the same goes for mobile],” he said. “These issues are an opportunity in some aspect.

“With security and privacy, we’re all trying to figure it out – there’s an opportunity to collaborate.”

Address the problem
Mr. Garfield said that companies need to address their security and privacy issues and address it effectively. 

“The thing that I see is that there’s a lot of work that’s been done already on the Web,” Mr. Garfield said. “And the thing that we’re working hard to do is to take the work that’s been proven effective in that area and take it to mobile.

“At the same time you want to ban the stuff that hasn’t worked – and there’s a lot that hasn’t worked,” he said. Companies today are different than what they were a year ago, and in addition to the evolution in technology, even the providers are going through changes.

“I think that we’ve defined the problem very well, it’s just about coming up with the solution.”

Henryk Dabrowski, CEO of Utiba Americas, agreed with Mr. Garfield and said that the same concern that we have now with privacy and data issues, other industries are on the same boat.

“I think that there’s a commonality and a sense of who owns that data,” Mr. Dabrowski said. “The mobile operator will consider that the user data and info is theirs, the banks will think it’s theirs and retailers will say it’s theirs.

“With privacy, there are specific policies,” he said. “I think it’s evolving.”

So who really owns it?
According to Keith Enright, vice president of privacy and chief privacy officer of Macy’s Inc., Mason, OH, the question of ownership is there.

“In retail, we want to have deep trusted relationships with our customers and a huge part of it is creating this trusted environment where they can share as much information as they can,” Mr. Enright said. “Where I think we have a challenge is the anonymity – taking people from anonymous context to identified context.

“Some of the proposed legislation has been so drafter and ambiguous,” he said. “We need to change that.”

It’s all private from here
Mike Wehr, CEO of Scanbuy, New York, believes that we are doing the things that we are aware of at this point and there are unintended consequences of action that are being enabled.

“You can’t expect the implications,” Mr. Wehr said. “The services behind that have different policies as well.

“If you look through the value chain right now, there are no clear players,” he said. “Everybody’s fighting still for what their cut is.”

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Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily and Mobile Marketer. Reach her at

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