Identity Safety: Why Is Data Privacy Important?

Cybersecurity/Data Privacy

Identity Safety: Why Is Data Privacy Important?

Knowing why data protection is important and what it is isn't something that everyone thinks much about. Usually, people try to keep their data privacy at a decent level. This is why they don't give out their personal information in Facebook's "About" section - even if they could.

With that in mind, there may be some instances when you might need to give more of your data. The companies that gather this kind of information will have to follow the data privacy laws and keep the personal data of their clients safe.

But what exactly is data privacy, and why is it so important for a company to follow privacy regulations? Well, this article should give you a bit of insight on that matter.

If you need help to certify your entire team to be compliant under cybersecurity laws, try EasyLlama's data privacy training. We can make sure all of the sensitive personal information remains secure.

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What Exactly Is Data Privacy?

Have you noticed how every page you visit or every app that you use tries to get its hands on your data? It might be just your name or your email - but still, this data is something that should technically belong only to you. This is where data privacy comes in.

What is data privacy? Data privacy is the way in which you attempt to keep your privacy online. As an Internet user, you need to know exactly who can see your online activity, as well as what third parties are going to do with that data. It allows you to keep control of your personal information.

Data privacy (also known as information privacy) is a data security branch that deals with the way in which your personal data is handled: who can see it, who is prohibited from seeing it, or what the company can do with said data. It deals with notice, consent, as well as regulatory obligations.

Data privacy touches upon a variety of things, but usually, it has to do with:

  • Whether or not your personal data is given to any third parties
  • How personal data is collected as well as stored
  • Privacy and data security restrictions like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA).

Users must keep in mind that a large company can easily track their personal data, as well as store it for their own benefit. Some of that data may be quite sensitive, so it's obvious that you should have some control over that matter.

Why Should You Care About Data Privacy?

Some time ago, WhatsApp re-launched a controversial update of their data privacy policy that put people pretty much on edge. Unless you accepted the privacy policy, you would not be able to continue using WhatsApp anymore.

At that point, the WhatsApp-using population split into two teams: those that did not really care about the update and hit "I agree," and those who feared a data breach - threatening to stop using WhatsApp altogether.

Now, this might not seem like much - but the more personal data a company can collect from you, the lesser you'll be able to remain 'incognito' online. If there are proper data protection laws in check, you should be able to steer clear of any uncalled-for surveillance.

Companies need to follow data privacy compliance if they wish to be successful in their business. Failure to abide by these data protection laws might lead to them receiving fines of up to millions of dollars, as well as other penalties.

If a data breach were to occur, it could throw a severe blow to a business - causing it to lose revenue and clients. Data breaches can cost up to $3.92 million to fix, but this may easily be resolved by having some privacy regulations placed in check.

As a user, data privacy should affect you as well. Companies might need your personal data in order to offer their best products - but if your private data ends up in the wrong hands, this can spell quite a lot of trouble. This should make people think twice before they hit "Accept Cookies."

For example, if a data breach occurs in a government agency, all that personal information can end up in an enemy state. Or if a breach occurs within a company where you normally do your online shopping, it might place your credit card in danger of being drained, as well as your identity being stolen. Read about Facebook's data privacy scandal in 2018 here and look at how the data breach affected the social media giant's overall business.

You should care about data privacy because, after all, you are entitled to privacy protection. Relationships, be them personal or business, are based on trust - and for that trust to be maintained, you'd need proper use of the General Data Protection Regulation law.

Data Privacy Vs. Data Security

Very often, the terms "data privacy" and "data security" are used interchangeably. In terms of privacy regulations, they are indeed quite similar - but at the same time, they have a slightly different concept.

Data privacy, for instance, will cover how your personal data is collected, stored, and then used for the profit of the company. It works on the user's consent that the company will use the personal data to provide you with services you might find useful. An example here is how Facebook shows you targeted ads the moment you click a certain ad/post or search for something in particular (you know you noticed it).

Data security, on the other hand, aims at protecting data from deliberate hacking or cybercriminals. At this point, it's quite easy for people to focus on security rather than data protection compliance, particularly with cyberattacks being on the rise since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Phishing, IP spoofing, and cracking of passwords have become a bit of a problem nowadays, as hackers are more and more ingenious. With that in mind, people should be concerned about data privacy compliance as well. Unless a company has explicit permission, they should not try to sell you a product that you haven't signed terms and conditions for.

Explaining Data Privacy Laws

Each country has different data privacy laws. Moreover, a certain company might have other data protection regulations, depending on the region. The United States, for example, will have different laws going from one state to another. At the same time, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) may have various alternatives and modifications in every other area.

In the European Union, there is legislation that goes over pretty much every member state - although there may be countries that have their own general data protection regulations. With that in mind, at the heart of EU's data privacy control, there is the GDPR law.

All of these laws have their different points. If you live outside the U.S., you probably noticed how some websites in the United States are unavailable to you. There are various reasons for that - but mostly, it's because the U.S. has a different idea of security and privacy as compared to Europe. As a result, for data privacy reasons, you are banned from going on those websites.

In the United States, personal information privacy takes on an approach that is slightly more decentralized. The FTC has the most power there, all data privacy laws going through federal bodies. It's their way of preventing any data breaches.

That being said, the data privacy law of the United States is also open for interpretation. For example, at the country level, there may not be as many regulations. However, at the State level, you might see some extra laws here and there in concerns to security and privacy.

Data privacy is important, so as an Internet user, you need to completely understand the rights and obligations that you have. This way, you should be able to protect yourself from any potential data breaches, taking the appropriate steps for the state in question.

Why Data Privacy Is Important for Businesses

As a business owner, you must be very careful when it comes to both data security and privacy. There are many laws that you need to follow, such as the Consumer Privacy Act CCPA, GDPR, and so on - all of which may allow you to avoid security breaches.

The importance of data should matter to the business owner just as much as it should matter to their clients. Here is why you need to pay some close attention to your data protection policy:

Customers Care about Privacy

In the past, when the Internet first came to be, people were not really bothered as much with privacy policies. Try thinking of how many personal data protection policies you read as a young one; probably not many.

There's a fairly good reason for that, but it mostly revolves around the lines of "there weren't as many hackers during those times in the first place." Now, however, cyber-attacks have become more and more of a concern - something that your customers may be picking onto as well.

Consumers might not have an issue with sharing personal data such as reviews, locations, or social media pictures. However, when it comes to more delicate data, such as their personal information, people are more reluctant to give it. Compared to one year ago, 80% of the people living in America are more concerned when it comes to data privacy. Also, they don't like having their data given to third parties.

Your customers care about their data privacy, which is why you should offer them protection. By giving people the data safety that they want, you should be able to increase your client base along with your brand value.

Data Privacy Helps Your Brand

The more trustworthy your brand seems, the more users you are likely to get. A brand that has a bad reputation for data privacy and security leaks will obviously not have a competitive advantage.

Your data privacy policy is not just a protective measure for your business; it is actually an opportunity to increase your brand value. By protecting your consumers against unauthorized access, you'll be winning them over - therefore, creating a reputation as a brand that they can actually trust.

It Will Support the Code of Ethics

Each organization, whether it's social or business-related, will have an ethics code going around. It may not even be written; people may just be following the practices because they believe this is right. But unless they follow a certain code of ethics based on respect and data privacy, they would not be able to keep the business going.

This applies to data privacy policies as well. Most codes of ethics state that the data they collect should be handled responsibly and that non-compliance will be punished.

It Gives You the Competitive Advantage

Remember the WhatsApp scandal that we talked about. Many of the users did not like the changes in the data privacy policy, particularly knowing the reputation for data breaches of the parent company, Facebook. As a result, more and more people switched to Signal, because they felt the app gave them more security for their personal data.

Consumers like to know that they gave control over their personal data, so obviously they will now go for the businesses that offer them the best security and data privacy law. If your business follows data protection regulation properly, it should offer you a competitive advantage that will bring you high up the market.

How to Make Sure the Company Respects Security and Data Privacy

If your company does not have much of a data protection system in check, it is time you show your data subjects some attention. It might take some effort, but here is how you may improve the data security of your business.

Create a Strategy for Data Compliance

If you wish for your business to be successful, a privacy compliance strategy for the data needs to be placed in check. Make sure that it is comprehensive, properly integrated with your business, and easy to measure.

It might take some extra documentation and data security work, but your customers will find it worth it. They will appreciate you going the extra mile to protect their personal data.

Establish Data Privacy Policies

All organizations and companies must have a data privacy policy placed for the user to see. These internet regulations should prevent unauthorized privacy breaches, stopping suspicious online activities from endangering your data.

Have a Breach Plan

You might have adhered to all the regulations, but sometimes, businesses might fall victim to personal data breaches. In the event that this happens, the organizations must have a response plan into how to fix the problem and protect the personal data of their customers.

Give Evidence of Compliance

Sometimes, the knowledge that you offer data protection and compliance to regulations might not be enough to your data subjects. Proof should be made available to anyone who considers privacy important and wishes to see it.

Have an Inventory on Sensitive Data

Businesses need to properly tag the data that they gather - including sensitive data. This way, it becomes easier to offer data protection and prevent unauthorized access. Obviously, this will have to follow the laws of online privacy.

How to Protect Your Personal Data

As a consumer that knows the importance of data privacy, you also need to properly protect yourself against personal data breaches. Even as a business owner, it might be important to you - because after all, you'll have to use Internet resources. Here are some data protection aspects that you should consider.

Check Social Media Data Privacy Settings

Even if social media wants to know something about you, it doesn't mean that you absolutely have to give them that data. According to California Consumer Privacy Act, unless you want to share a certain piece of data to complete strangers, no one is forcing you to disclose any type of information.

Careful When Storing Private Data

Sometimes, when you want to be organized, you use public storage to keep the data you want to pass from one computer to another. However, that is rarely a good idea in terms of personal data. Google Docs, for instance, is not a good place for private data such as password lists.

You might also feel tempted to place your ID or passport scans in your Dropbox, but unless their data security policy says they have encrypted archives, this might not be the best place for you to keep these documents.

Keep Main Information Private

Let's say that you wish to log into a website, but their data privacy settings ask you to provide an email address or a phone number. However, for information security and peace of mind, you should have a dummy account or number for everything.

Review App Permissions

While some mobile apps cannot work without you giving permission for data use, there are certain instances when it might work to your disadvantage - at least, if we were to consider data privacy here. Reviewing personal data permissions might solve this issue.

The Bottom Line About Data Protection

Data protection and privacy are important to everyone, no matter if you are a consumer or a business owner. If you want to attract loyal customers and keep them, you need to properly protect the data that is given to you.

Remember that consumers trust businesses with their personal data. You need to respect their privacy and keep their trust as a business owner, just like you would have to select your data sharing as a user.

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