Individual control over the timing, manner, and scope of dissemination of personally identifiable information is the essence of data privacy. One’s identity can be revealed through their name, location, contact info, or actions both online and off. The desire to limit or avoid certain sorts of personal data collecting online is analogous to the desire to limit or prevent certain types of eavesdropping in a private discussion.
Data privacy has become increasingly vital as Internet use has expanded. Personal information about users is typically required in order for websites, apps, and social media platforms to function properly.
However, users may find that their data is being collected and used in ways that go beyond their expectations on some applications and platforms. A data breach that breaches user privacy could occur if other apps and platforms don’t adequately safeguard the information they collect.
Why is Data Privacy Important?
Data protection laws are in place to preserve individuals’ right to privacy, which is recognized as a basic principle in many legal systems. Individuals need to have faith that their personal data will be managed carefully before they are willing to participate actively online. To prove they can be trusted with their customers’ and users’ personal information, businesses implement data protection measures.
Without proper protections in place or the means to opt out of certain data uses, individuals risk having their personal information exploited in a variety of ways.
- User information can be used fraudulently or for harassment purposes by criminals.
- Without the users’ knowledge or consent, businesses may share their customers’ personal information with marketers and other third parties, potentially subjecting them to intrusive marketing and advertising.
- Under repressive governments, a person’s right to free speech may be curtailed if their every move is monitored.
Any of these effects may be detrimental to an individual. These outcomes can result in fines, sanctions, and other legal repercussions for a company, and do irreparable harm to their brand.
Many individuals and nations believe that privacy has worth in and of itself and that the right to privacy is as essential to a free society as the right to freedom of speech.
Data Privacy is Not Data Security
Companies may think they are in compliance with data privacy requirements just by taking precautions to protect their customers’ personal information from hackers. It’s not like that at all. Data privacy regulates the collection, sharing, and use of data, whereas data security safeguards data from compromise by external attackers and hostile insiders.
Differing Legal Definitions of Data Privacy
The legal definition of data privacy can be highly complicated if there is consensus on its relevance to businesses.
It is up to individual companies to decide what constitutes industry best practice when it comes to data privacy, as none of the most common standards (GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, etc.) define the word in any detail. Definitions of what constitutes reasonable and associated penalties vary from statute to law.
In reality, this implies that organizations handling sensitive and personal information should give serious thought to going above and beyond what is required by law to protect the data they collect and store.
U.S. Privacy Laws: A Trailblazer
There are a number of other laws in the United States that govern data privacy. Some of these are implemented at the state level, while others are national in scope. These statutes take a novel approach to the problem of data privacy in the country, going further than the existing legislation that addresses specific industries in some situations.
For instance, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) strengthens privacy safeguards in that state. When the CCPA goes into effect on January 1, 2020, businesses in California will need to be prepared to protect their customers’ personal information, respond to data subject access requests, and more.
Consumers are afforded greater agency over the collection and use of their data by businesses thanks to the CCPA. To determine whether the information is covered by the CCPA and respond to data subject access requests (DSARs), businesses require an efficient way to locate and categorize sensitive information.
Similarly, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) was passed in 1998 with the intention of safeguarding the personal information of children under the age of 13. In order to gather information about minors, businesses must obtain parental consent, and the legislation also lays out the parameters for how that information can be stored and used.
There appears to be a desire among legislators to enhance data security and privacy in further industries since several states are considering passing rules similar to California’s. At present, there is a hodgepodge of legislation across the country; some have even proposed establishing a Federal Department of Cybersecurity to standardize existing laws.
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