Privacy is not just a business concern, it’s also a personal one, as much of this information falls into the private sphere. It is therefore very important to know what data privacy is and why it is essential.
As data becomes more and more digitized, it is much easier to share information online. Yet, while this allows us to connect you to the world and save time, collecting and possessing data online can expose you to hacking, phishing and identity theft.
Find out everything you need to know about data privacy and the steps you can take to protectyourself online.
What is data privacy?
Data privacy involves the protection of private information provided to public and private actors in various contexts. It generally refers to an individual’s ability to determine for themselves whether, how and to what extent they communicate or share their private information with others. This personal data may include, but is not limited to, your name, financial information, medical information, location, contact information, online activities or real-life behavior.
With the increase in Internet usage, data privacy has become somewhat of a concern. More often than not, online applications, social media platforms and websites collect and store your data in order to improve the user experience and provide better service. However, this exposes you in a more personalway.
Some apps don’t use sufficient cybersecurity measures to protect your data, which means almost anyone can steal it. Still others openly share your data with third parties for marketing or other purposes. Most of the time, they make money by selling your information, without your consent.
What happens when there is a data breach?
Data breaches affect both individuals and organizations. Those affected by this type of theft often have to change their passwords frequently, freeze their bank cards, and actively monitor their identity.
Companies that do not have measures in place to protect their data can be held liable to victims following a data breach, regardless of their efforts to protect them in the first place. They will also be required to inform victims of the stolen information.
Data breaches can also be costly. According to a recent report published by IBM, the average cost of a breach is over $4 million. In addition, the cost of a tarnished reputation is a problem that many companies face for years. Some never recover.
For individuals,identity theft is a real problem. The information revealed by a data leak ranges from social security numbers to banking information. Having these details available allows criminals to commit all types of fraud under your name. If you are a victim of identity theft, you can be subject to legal action and it can be very difficult and time consuming to recover what you have lost.
What is the difference between data privacy and data security?
Although they are often used interchangeably, data privacy and data security are 2 very distinct approaches. Many organizations believe that protecting private information from malicious third parties is consistent with data privacy. This is not necessarily the case.
- Data privacy: governance of how data is used, collected and shared by the owner with external parties.
- Data Security: Protecting data from external and internal threats.
Are there data privacy laws?
The U.S. Privacy and Data Protection Act is the latest attempt at a bipartisan data privacy bill in the United States.
It has been four years since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was imposed in the European Union. Of course, anyone who processes personally identifiable data of an EU national must also follow this regulation. Thus, RGPD compliance is a global issue.
It’s a different story on the other side of the Atlantic, in the United States. There is currently no national law protecting the data privacy of U.S. citizens. Instead, some states have drafted their own legislation. One example is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which protects Californians in a similar way to the GDPR.
As you can imagine, having several different rules makes understanding and enforcing data privacy complex and confusing. A federal law in the U.S. could simplify things for companies that collect, store and process consumer data.
The great promise of ADPPA is that it would clearly define individual privacy rights, as well as requirements for organizations around the world that handle the personal information of U.S. citizens.
Data privacy laws also vary from country to country. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), for example, governs how companies and organizations in the European Union must use (and more importantly protect!) the personal information of EU citizens.
The GDPR states that no company may collect, store or use data without the individual’s consent. This provision of the GDPR means that organizations cannot automatically ask users to receive marketing communications and other targeted content. Instead, users must choose this option themselves.
How do you make sure your data stays private?
It’s not a matter of if your data will be collected, but when and how.
Here are a few ways to get started:
- Secure all your online accounts by using strong pass words or by helping yourself with a password manager, NordPass is one of the most recommended today.
- Protect your browsing by turning off interest-based ads, including those from Google, Facebook, Apple and Twitter. You can use an ad blocker.
- Use anti-virus software (can’t say this enough!)
- Use a VPN to secure your data, avoid online tracking and surveillance.
- Beware of links with attachments in your messages and emails. Hackers have been known to compose phishing scams that look like legitimate communications from utility companies, banks or other commercial entities.
- Check to see if the site you are browsing is secure by looking at the top of your browser. The site is secure if you see a lock symbol or “https” on the URL link.
- Don’t share too much information on social media. Check your privacy settings regularly to see who is viewing your posts. Be extremely careful when posting your location, hometown, address, birthday or other personal information.
Online privacy, too good to be true?
More and more of us are posting our data online, especially on social media. We also share huge amounts of personal data with companies, including sensitive details like our medical history and address. And we trust apps and platforms to look after our data, but not all of them do.
Whether it’s cybercriminals accessing systems to steal your data, or data brokers sharing your ad profile with thousands of third parties, your privacy is being compromised on a daily basis. Think carefully about what you share, where and with whom. There are bound to be apps on your phone that you don’t use that are still siphoning off your information. Doing a little housekeeping cannot hurt!