We live in an era where data is everything. The growth of the digital economy has resulted in people sharing more of their personal information online. Data has become one of the most important assets any company can have today; practically as important as money.
Many technology companies have built great businesses because of their access to data, but every class of company can benefit from it. Considering its level of importance, access to information must be strictly protected and regulated.
What is data privacy?
Data privacy is a branch of data protection that centers on the rights of individuals regarding their data. Its focus is on the proper handling of data. That includes how data should be ethically collected, stored, and managed, with a particular focus on how data should be shared with third parties.
There are data protection regulations that every company should comply with. These include the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Country-specific data protection regulations also exist.
It is important to understand data privacy because data can be easily mismanaged. There have been several cases of data invasion and compromisation by companies and governments in recent times.
While companies need to ensure that they use user data responsibly, individuals are also encouraged to be vigilant in sharing their personal data.
What you should know about data privacy in 2021
Because data privacy is such a delicate issue, the regulations and practices around it evolve constantly. Here are five things individuals and companies should know about data privacy in 2021.
1.Data privacy is everyone’s right
Every individual has a right to privacy. Each person is allowed not to want certain information about them to be shared with others or to go public. However, companies are increasingly interested in various aspects of people’s personal information.
These include people’s locations, contact lists, media files, search histories, and so much more. This interest stems from the plethora of benefits that companies can enjoy in marketing when they have access to these kinds of information.
Due to this rising interest, companies must deliberately make an effort to protect people’s rights to decide whether or not they want to share their information. If not, companies will continually infringe on people’s privacy and exploit their data.
The recognition of this is what has led governments and regulatory bodies to create data protection laws. With these laws in place to serve as a check on data mining organizations’ excesses, users can now control their data.
This includes the type of information that businesses have about them, how they collect it, and a right to see the type of information they have about them whenever they wish.
2.Data privacy is different from data security
Data privacy and data security, though used interchangeably, are different. They are both needed to properly protect data and comply with data protection laws.
On the one hand, data privacy focuses on people’s rights, the purpose for which their data is being collected, their privacy preferences, and the way organizations manage personal data.
Data security, on the other hand, refers to the different safeguards and efforts put into the prevention of unauthorized access to digital data by third parties. It also guards against alteration, deletion, or disclosure of data. It focuses on the protection of data from data breaches or cyberattacks.
Data privacy and data security are equally important. If a business collects data without compliance with necessary regulations, securing such data would be unlawful and pointless.
Also, if you collect data ethically and don’t secure it properly, a breach can occur. Hence, you must leverage both concepts for best practices.
3.Non-compliance to data privacy has consequences
Gone are the days when organizations could get away with infringing on people’s data. Companies that neglect data privacy regulations are now at an even greater risk of fines and lawsuits.
According to a Data Breach Report of 2020 that the Ponemon Institute carried out, the average total cost of a data breach is 3.86 million US dollars. While some companies can afford the enormous fines that come with non-compliance, many others just cannot.
Some companies have been unable to recover financially from data infringement lawsuits. You can also easily lose brand reputation and customer loyalty when people discover a company to be non-compliant with data privacy regulations.
It is quite disappointing to see a company that has built a name for itself suddenly begin to struggle for brand equity. To avoid these heavy consequences, companies must be proactively implementing safeguards every time.
The first and most important measure to take is to understand the data protection regulations that apply in your areas of operation. It is also necessary for companies to invest in training their staff, especially those who have access to customers’ data, on data protection regulations.
Constantly remind members of staff about the need to respect data privacy. Additionally, you can use data protection software to automate companies’ data privacy processes. Overall, companies must be ready to invest adequate resources and money into their data prevention efforts.
4.Data privacy software has become a necessity
Data privacy is undoubtedly a technological issue. Companies collect, store and manage most of their data primarily via digital technology. You would hardly find a company in 2021 with all its user data written or memorized by humans. Hence, it is possible to protect digital data with technology.
To achieve data privacy, organizations should use data security software like Osano, GDPR365, Cookiebot, etc., that can protect their customers’ data from third parties and prevent or at least reduce the risk of data breaches.
Data privacy software can help you achieve compliance by automating data privacy principles. The software works mainly by tracking statutory deadlines for each data subject request.
5.Data privacy is everyone’s responsibility
There is a growing need for everyone to play a part in ensuring that companies implement data privacy on various levels. It is the responsibility of governments, businesses, and customers to make sure that they protect people’s rights to privacy.
See a few ways through which each of these groups can play their part:
- The Government
They must continuously evaluate the provisions, jurisdictions, and benefits of the current data privacy regulations. If they neglect this, companies will be less deliberate about obeying the regulations and would seek out loopholes that they can benefit from.
The government must also be ready and willing to support individuals who report data privacy infringements or file lawsuits against defaulting companies.
- The Business
Businesses have an obligation to both their customers and the government to adhere strictly to data privacy regulations. It is irresponsible for a company to seek out ways to bypass data privacy laws.
Rather, companies should seek ways to build their businesses without infringing on privacy rights. Companies also need to provide clear privacy statements to their customers so that they know what they are getting into from the onset.
Every data you collect must be appropriately encrypted, accessed responsibly, and deleted appropriately. Additionally, frequently review permissions for internal users to ensure that there is no data exposure or misuse.
This would avert the risk of data infringement lawsuits and contribute to a positive brand reputation.
- The Customer
Customers need to know and understand their privacy rights as defined by the government. They also need to read and understand the privacy policies you present if they share their information with you.
Many customers have a subconscious habit of clicking ‘agree’ on digital platforms without reading privacy terms. As a customer, it’s dangerous because you may be signing off more personal information than you would like without knowing it.
Also, there are several ways that customers can protect their data on devices and digital platforms. Some examples of these include actively looking out for personal data breaches, setting up multi-factor authentication, and securing mobile devices with passwords that should not be shared with others.
Downloading applications from official stores (such as App Store and Google Play) is also advisable.
Most importantly, with the rise in social media use, people must protect their social media identities by being conscious of the devices they log in with and the information they upload on various platforms.
Data Privacy is very important, and everyone must assume responsibility for it. The ongoing changes in the world are leading to a steady rise in internet use, and this results in the availability of more personal data on the internet.
Everyone’s online activity is a contributor. Hence, we all should carry out these activities more mindfully. Everyone who uses any form of digital technology should care about data privacy.
Organizations will continually create new digital platforms and applications. This is why more users need to become conscious of their data privacy rights.
When companies know that people are becoming more deliberate about choosing which platform or technology to trust their data with, they will self-regulate better. This will result in better conditions for both users and companies.