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Are we facing a consumer meltdown & tragedy of the trust commons?

Since the start of the year we have seen significant efforts by organized crime targeting the trusted supply chain and cloud service providers.  Email marketers are not alone, government agencies, advertising networks, certificate authorities and mailbox providers have all been compromised in the past 90 days.  With the latest data breach against email marketing firm Epsilon, OTA is raising a call to arms to re-invest in security best practices and operational discipline. 

We must change to a security focused culture or risk a trust meltdown and destruction of consumer confidence. In today’s cybercrime landscape, businesses need to assume if they collect and retain data they will lose it.  If one accepts this premise, one can then better protect, detect and remediate potential losses.     

Why Business Must Care:

  • Competition - Shift in the marketing spend to other channels or demand lower CPM rates.

  • Effectiveness - These breaches are game changers.  Deliverability, open and click through rates may be impacted and more ads may become blocked.

  • Accountability - Clients (and their attorneys) will hold their service providers and ad networks accountable for failure to take reasonable security measures.

  • Impact to regulation.  This adds fuel to the fire regarding data collection and the online tracking debate.

  • Impact to consumer trust. 

  • The internet economy is based on the foundation of trust & confidence. Without trust, we fail!

What Business Needs To Do:

OTA has created a taskforce including executives of the leading ESPs, industry working groups  and security professionals to identify best practices and publish prescriptive guidance.  This effort will include an outline of questions for every business to ask of their service provider and provide a framework for creating consumer facing communications.     

This is a defining moment us all.  Let’s work together, demonstrate data stewardship and commitment to consumer trust.  I look forward to your feedback and collaboration. 


Craig Spiezle
Executive Director & President
Online Trust Alliance

See Related Op-ed - Facing the Tension - Individualism, Profits & The Common Good