Data Privacy - Importance, Laws, Protection



What is Data Privacy?

Data privacy, sometimes also referred to as information privacy, is an area of data protection that concerns the proper handling of sensitive data such as certain financial data and intellectual property data, to meet regulatory requirements as well as protecting the confidentiality and immutability of the data.

Roughly speaking, data protection spans three broad categories, namely, traditional data protection (such as backup and restore copies), data security, and data privacy . Ensuring the privacy of sensitive and personal data can be considered an outcome of best practice in data protection and security with the overall goal of achieving the continual availability and immutability of critical business data.

What are some of the most important technologies for data privacy?

Encryption is a way to conceal information by scrambling it so that it appears to be random data. Only parties with the encryption key can unscramble the information.

With the increase in dependency on electronic devices, it becomes important to teach people the proper ‘netiquettes’. Parents have an important role to play in monitoring their child’s behaviour and activity on the internet. It is also important for Access control ensures that only authorized parties access systems and data. Access control can be combined with data loss prevention (DLP) to stop sensitive data from leaving the network.

Two-factor authentication is one of the most important technologies for regular users, as it makes it far harder for attackers to gain unauthorized access to personal accounts.

These are just some of the technologies available today that can protect user privacy and keep data more secure. However, technology alone is not sufficient to protect data privacy.

What are the laws that govern data privacy?

As technological advances have improved data collection and surveillance capabilities, governments around the world have started passing laws regulating what kind of data can be collected about users, how that data can be used, and how data should be stored and protected. Some of the most important regulatory privacy frameworks to know include:

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 

Regulates how the personal data of European Union (EU) data subjects, meaning individuals, can be collected, stored, and processed, and gives data subjects rights to control their personal data (including a right to be forgotten).

National data protection laws 

Many countries, such as Canada, Japan, Australia, Singapore, and others, have comprehensive data protection laws in some form. Some, like Brazil's General Law for the Protection of Personal Data and the UK's Data Protection Act, are quite similar to the GDPR.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)

Requires that consumers be made aware of what personal data is collected and gives consumers control over their personal data, including a right to tell organizations not to sell their personal data. There are also industry-specific privacy guidelines in some countries: for instance, in the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) governs how personal healthcare data should be handled.

However, many privacy advocates argue that individuals still do not have sufficient control over what happens to their personal data. Governments around the world may pass additional data privacy laws in the future. 

What are some of the challenges users face when protecting their online privacy?

Online tracking: User behavior is regularly tracked online. Cookies often record a user's activities, and while most countries require websites to alert users of cookie usage, users may not be aware of to what degree cookies are recording their activities.

Losing control of data: With so many online services in common use, individuals may not be aware of how their data is being shared beyond the websites with which they interact online, and they may not have a say over what happens to their data.

Lack of transparency: To use web applications, users often have to provide personal data like their name, email, phone number, or location; meanwhile, the privacy policies associated with those applications may be dense and difficult to understand.

Social media: Social media posts may reveal more personal information than users realize.

Cyber crime: Many attackers try to steal user data in order to commit fraud, compromise secure systems, or sell it on underground markets to parties who will use the data for malicious purposes. Some attackers use phishing attacks .

What are some of the challenges businesses face when protecting user privacy?

Communication: Organizations sometimes struggle to communicate clearly to their users what personal data they are collecting and how they use it. 

Cyber crime: Attackers target both individual users and organizations that collect and store data about those users. In addition, as more aspects of a business become Internet-connected, the attack surface increases.

Data breaches: A data breach can lead to a massive violation of user privacy if personal details are leaked, and attackers continue to refine the techniques they use to cause these breaches.

Insider threats: Internal employees or contractors might inappropriately access data if it is not adequately protected.

Why is Data Privacy important?

In many jurisdictions, privacy is considered a fundamental human right, and data protection laws exist to guard that right. Data privacy is also important because in order for individuals to be willing to engage online, they have to trust that their personal data will be handled with care. Organizations use data protection practices to demonstrate to their customers and users that they can be trusted with their personal data.

Business Asset Management: Data is perhaps the most important asset a business owns. We live in a data economy where companies find enormous value in collecting, sharing and using data about customers or users, especially from social media.

Regulatory Compliance: Managing data to ensure regulatory compliance is arguably even more important. A business may have to meet legal responsibilities about how they collect, store, and process personal data, and non-compliance could lead to a huge fine. If the business becomes the victim to a hack or ransomware, the consequences in terms of lost revenue and lost customer trust could be even worse.

Personal data can be misused in a number of ways if it is not kept private or if people don’t have the ability to control how their information is used: Entities may sell personal data to advertisers or other outside parties without user consent, which can result in users receiving unwanted marketing or advertising.

When a person's activities are tracked and monitored, this may restrict their ability to express themselves freely, especially under repressive governments. For individuals, any of these outcomes can be harmful. For a business, these outcomes can irreparably harm their reputation, as well as resulting in fines, sanctions, and other legal consequences. In addition to the real-world implications of privacy infringements, many people and countries hold that privacy has intrinsic value: that privacy is a human right fundamental to a free society, like the right to free speech.

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