The 6 Key Principles of “Privacy by Design”

Published: September 23, 2021 by Michael Reiff

privacy product development

Data privacy remains a pressing concern for businesses, as 89% of consumers say they care about data privacy1 while breaches are predicted to reach an all-time high by year’s end2.  Additionally, a striking 70% of consumers say they are willing to spend time and money to protect their information1.

Privacy has become a differentiator and vital pillar in organizations’ efforts to build trust and loyalty and drive new technology adoption. Privacy by Design is a critical principle for enterprises to embrace in coming years, with 50% of executives worldwide already saying that cybersecurity and privacy are baked into every business decision they make3.

Proactive Approach to Privacy

The philosophy of “privacy by design” can help you maintain a competitive edge by helping you build privacy into your product development process. It’s an approach to systems engineering that champions the interweaving of key privacy measures throughout the creation and operation of IT systems, networked devices, and organizational policies and procedures.

The core principles revolve around proactive, instead of reactive, solutions and embedding end-to-end security and privacy measures throughout new innovations. It encourages enterprises to make privacy and user data protection a default setting in any system, solution, or business process and challenges them to proactively plan against future threats which may arise.

Examples of Privacy by Design

Big tech firms like Amazon and Facebook now integrate privacy controls throughout their suites of high-tech hardware and software offerings. Similarly, Apple is providing mobile device users with greater insight and control over what information they choose to exchange with third parties. As eMarketer’s Privacy as a Competitive Advantage report notes, a winning privacy strategy can fuel user adoption and enhance revenue growth, while breaches of trust and customer dissatisfaction create opportunities for competitors to advance. Privacy is suddenly at an inflection point today, as the world’s most successful firms are increasingly waking up and realizing –establishing and rebuilding customer trust will be vital to driving adoption of future innovations.

Key Principles of Privacy by Design

As you look to incorporate privacy by design thinking into your product development process, consider these six principles:

  1. Give users agency and control. Be transparent with users regarding what information is being collected and provide the option to access privacy dashboards that allow them to control how, when, and to what extent their data is being gathered and shared.
  2. Adopt privacy-first settings by default. Automatically default to settings that protect users’ information and do not monitor their activity or ingest private information without first seeking their permission.
  3. Be up-front about how data is being used and collected. Using clear and simple policies, make it obvious to customers how their information is being captured and utilized to avoid them encountering unpleasant surprises.
  4. Be honest and up-front about your business model. Give customers deeper understanding into any exchange of value, e.g. if the reason that content or services are being provided free of charge is because they’re trading for access to it by sharing their data.
  5. Choose customers first. Embrace a culture shift that celebrates user satisfaction above profits, dedicate teams to the pursuit of privacy-focused innovations, and always ask for users’ consent (e.g. via online opt-ins) before onboarding their data into your systems.
  6. Have a backup plan in place. Look to trusted identity protection services and have a backup plan in place to help serve clients in case a data breach occurs.

Tomorrow’s leaders are looking to privacy as a source of business differentiation and competitive advantage. It’s not just a checkbox, it’s a way to improve the customer experience through building it into every phase of product development.


1 Cisco “2020 Consumer Privacy Survey”; Insider Intelligence Calculations

2 Identity Theft Resource Center  “Data Breaches are up 38% in Q2 2021”

3 PwC, Global Trust Insights 2021 report

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