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What Is Data Privacy and Why Is It Important?

— September 7, 2022

As a business, it is perhaps even more important to make sure you implement data privacy protection procedures.

In an increasingly digital world, data privacy is becoming more and more important, both for businesses and for individuals. As a business entity, you want to ensure you are compliant with all the relevant data privacy laws. As a private individual, you want all of your personal information kept as safe as possible. So what exactly is data privacy, and why does it matter so much? 

What Is Data Privacy? 

Data privacy is essentially how a piece of information should be handled. For example, you may be fine with sharing your name with a brand you are making a purchase from, but you wouldn’t want to also share your social security number. Were you to open a bank account, on the other hand, you wouldn’t mind filling in a form that asks for that same information. 

As we spend more time online, and as websites, social media platforms, and apps are collecting an increasing amount of our personal information, how it is collected, used, stored, and handled is of vital importance. For example, you may be aware of the Facebook data privacy lawsuit or some other major breaches of data security. When companies don’t tell you what they know about you and how they are using that information, your privacy, and potentially your finances, are threatened. 

Why Is Data Privacy Important? 

Privacy is considered a basic human right in many countries, so online data privacy has become a heated issue. There are numerous laws put in place to protect it. 

Here is why it should matter to you:

  • Criminals can use your personal data for all kinds of nefarious purposes: theft, fraud, identity theft, harassment, blackmail, cybercrime. 
  • If your personal data is sold to a third party without your contestant, you can become the target of unsolicited advertising. 
  • Your right to express yourself freely can be restricted when your personal data is threatened. 
  • Businesses can be heavily fined when not protecting the privacy of their users. 
  • In consequence, they can lose a lot of business, as they are deemed untrustworthy by customers. 

Important Data Privacy Regulations 

Governments around the world have implemented laws and regulations governing data privacy. The most notable ones include:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): Defines how the personal data of EU citizens can be collected, stored, and used.
  • California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA): Requires individuals to be aware of the data collected from them and gives them the right to control how this data is used. 
  • National data protection laws have been instituted by Canada, Australia, the UK, Singapore, and many other countries that target specific regions. They are mostly similar to the GDPR. 

Ways to Protect Your Data as an Individual

Capital One Settles with Nearly 100M Data Breach Customers
Photo by Soumil Kumar from Pexels

There are several things you can do as an individual to protect your data. Remember, while there are laws in place to protect you, not everyone abides by them, and it is your responsibility to be diligent. 

  • Prevent mail theft with a sturdy mailbox.
  • Shred all documents that contain your personal data.
  • Use strong passwords.
  • Secure your home wi-fi and other networks.
  • Don’t automatically provide all the information a website asks from you.

Ways to Protect Data as a Business 

As a business, it is perhaps even more important to make sure you implement data privacy protection procedures. Here’s what to keep in mind:

  • Be aware of all local and international laws and regulations that apply to your business.
  • Consult a data privacy legal expert to advise you on the quality of your internal regulations.
  • Ensure your hardware and software are protected and that your servers are not breachable.
  • Regularly update all software and mobile apps.
  • Write a clear data protection policy with tools like TermsFeed.
  • Limit file sharing outside secure office computers.
  • Teach your staff why data privacy matters and what they need to do to protect it.

Wrapping Up 

Considering the staggering amount of data that is digitally stored, it becomes paramount to keep refining data privacy laws and regulations. However, it’s not just up to governing bodies to ensure our data and the data of our customers and clients is safe. We need to do our own part and be careful about how we use and collect it. Likewise, we need to be strict about whom we provide access to all the sensitive information that can be used for fraudulent, criminal, or other non-authorized purposes.

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