Data Privacy & Laws: How Can You Protect Your Data In 2024

Data Privacy Your Data Your Rules
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You might have heard the phrase “data is the new oil.” Nowadays, data has become an integral part of almost every business. Direct marketing messages, customer reviews, and research-based insights all depend on the standard and amount of information you share. This reason supports why companies are so eager to collect your data. But what if your data gets breached or your personal information falls into the wrong hands? That’s where the term “data privacy” comes in.

Data privacy is a data protection strategy that tells how to properly store, access, retain, and secure your sensitive information. It’s important because it guards your personal integrity, builds trust in digital connections, and justifies the basic rights of individuals as well as businesses in a data-driven world. 

Legislators want to protect you from any cyber threat and inconvenience. So, they have formulated some U.S. data privacy laws like Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). These rules promote strict access controls to safeguard your sensitive personal data. Read on to learn more!

What is Data Privacy?

What is Data Privacy

Data privacy, also known as information privacy, basically refers to the ability of a person to set limits for themselves like when, how, and to what extent they can share their data or communicate with others. Your personal information can be your name, contact details, location, or online or real-life actions. Just like you want to remove people from your private discussions, many online surfers want to hide their personal data from others. 

You also don’t want to share your financial details and intellectual property information with others. Data privacy and data protection are the aspects that cover the confidentiality and immutability of this personal data. Pretty much data protection has three major categories:

  • Traditional data protection such as restoring copies and backup
  • Data security
  • Data privacy 

It’s not wrong to say that we ensure the privacy of sensitive personal data as an outcome of the best data protection and security practices. Our main goal is to achieve the constant availability and security of important business details.

There is no legal definition of data privacy

Although GDRP is not the first data privacy law, it’s known as the most comprehensive and innovative data protection law that reflects how businesses create and control everyday data in the new digital world.

However, neither the GDRP nor other data privacy laws like the US Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), give a legal definition that tells what data privacy is. In short, if you are looking for a specific definition mentioned in a certain law, you will not be able to find one. 

Data Privacy and Security

Data privacy and data security are different but related terms. Both are the basic components of the overall data governance policy of a business. Data privacy highlights the individual rights of the data owner. For organizations, data privacy is a practice of implementing processes and policies that help users control their data according to the relevant data privacy rules. 

And data security? It focuses on protecting data from illegal access and misuse. For organizations, data security means managing controls to prevent hackers and insider threats from messing up with customers’ sensitive data. 

Data security helps ensure data privacy by allowing the right people to access personal data for the right reasons. Data privacy ensures data security by determining the “right reasons” and “right people” for any sort of data.

Why is Data Privacy Important?

Why is Data Privacy Important

Data privacy is treated as a fundamental human right by many authorities and data protection laws are created to secure that right. Data privacy is also important because if individuals are willing to connect online, they need to trust that their personal data will not be misused. Businesses use data protection measures to show their customers and users that they can trust them with their personal data. 

Personal data can be exploited in different ways if it’s not secured privately or if the people are not able to control how their details are used:

  • Fake businesses may sell personal information to advertisers or other third parties without the permission of users. As a result, users receive unwanted ads or marketing messages.
  • Cybercriminals can use personal data to harass or trick users with cyberattacks like phishing attacks. Here is detailed guide on different types of phishing attacks.
  • When the online activity of a person is tracked and observed, it may restrict them from expressing their feeling freely, especially under the control of oppressive governments. 

In addition to the real-life effects of privacy violation, many people and countries believe that privacy holds inherent value as it’s a basic human right important for a free society, just like the right to speak freely.

Data Privacy is Important for Individuals

Any of the above-mentioned consequences can be dangerous for individuals. Privacy laws help individuals regain access to their data, allowing them to know how, by whom, and why their information is being utilized. 

Organizations that gather personal data are bound to answer these questions and lawfully use personal data. As stated in Gartner’s predictions for the future of privacy;

“Privacy is today what ‘organic’ or ‘cruelty-free’ was in the past decade.”

Data Privacy is important for Businesses

Businesses just can’t work without using personal data. However, to stay clean, companies should handle personal data transparently, be answerable for the data they utilize, and stick to privacy laws. Otherwise, they will have to pay huge penalties, customers will not trust them anymore, and there will always be a risk of data breaches. 

However, U.S. privacy laws like GDRP have digitally transformed some companies and thus given them a competitive edge as privacy-advanced companies. From meeting customers’ expectations to getting competitive advantages through good quality data, enhanced customer experience, and greater investment demand and branding; they excel in everything.

What are Fair Information Practices? 

Fair Information Practices

Most of the previous data privacy laws depended on basic privacy principles and practices like those mentioned in the Fair Information Practices. The Fair Information Practices are a set of instructions for data accumulation and processing. These guidelines were first suggested by a board of advisors to the United States. 

Department of Health, Education, and Welfare in 1973. They were then approved by the International Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in its Guidelines on the Protection of Privacy and Transborder Flows of Personal Data. The Fair Information Practices include:

  • Data quality: The personal data being collected should be correct and according to the aim for which it is being collected. 
  • Purpose specification: The use of personal data should be stated.
  • Collection limitation: The amount and type of personal data collected should be limited.
  • Use limitation: Data should not be utilized for purposes other than what is mentioned. 
  • Accountability: Anyone who collects personal data should be responsible for fulfilling these requirements. 
  • Openness: The collection and use of personal data should be transparent for individuals. 
  • Security safeguards: Data should be kept safe and away from curious cats. 
  • Individual participation: People have some rights such as the right to be aware of who has their personal information, to have their data transmitted to them, to know the reason behind the denial of their request for personal data, and to have their personal information rectified or removed.

Data Privacy Laws

The advancement of the Internet and other data-based technology has given rise to the establishment of detailed data protection structures worldwide. As a result, governments all over the world have made their own privacy laws. 

Companies that don’t comply with the required data privacy regulations can face heavy penalties from the FTC, such as the largest one of $5 billion in history charged to Facebook (currently known as Meta) in 2019. 

U.S. Privacy laws

Compared to other countries in the world, the United States has no comprehensive data privacy law at the federal level yet. However, they have an act named the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that is almost close to a comprehensive data privacy law. 

This act has set specific standards on how companies can deal with children below 13 years and their personal data online. Otherwise, the U.S. depends on a “patchwork quilt” of laws to protect its old people, as Sirota mentioned. 

All U.S. states, territories, and colonies have data breach laws that ask companies to inform users if their personal details have been leaked or compromised. However, only 11 states have considerable data privacy laws on record. This sum will increase in the future as almost twelve more states have their privacy bills in progress. 

California Privacy Regulation Act (CPRA)

California was the first state to start a comprehensive privacy law formulation. This practice was initiated through the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which was declared as a law in June 2018. Here is a detailed guide on CCPA. Two years later, the state signed the CPRA that particularly replaced and improved some elements of CCPA to expand privacy protections and increase impactful rules for businesses. 

Generally, the CRPA was created to give Californian citizens more command over their online data and limit how companies can use it. It wants companies to allow the residents of California to stop the third-party sale of their data for publicizing purposes and share such requests with data brokers or sell or share their information with them. 

It further elaborates on the meaning of “sensitive personal information. It not only involves social security numbers and bank account details but also biometrics, geolocations, and religious and political connections. 

According to Gilbert, due to its nature, CPRA is significantly just as influential as any federal law would be. This law protects the natives of California despite their location, but now it’s hard for companies to know whether a person lives in California or not if their IP address shows a different location. Thus, in multiple ways, it’s easier for companies to treat all California residents equally. He said;

“From a technical perspective, you have to treat the most conservative state law as though it’s the law of the land, purely because you can’t differentiate very easily. Companies across the board are treating California as though it’s a federal law.”

Being inspired by the CPRA, Colorado, Virginia, Utah, and Connecticut have made their comprehensive data privacy bills over the years. 

International Privacy Laws

Sirota considers that there are almost 200 laws globally about data privacy in countries from Saudi Arabia to Australia. The following are some more important ones. 

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) 

The General Data Protection Regulation controls the accumulation, use transfer, and security of data gathered from residents in the 27 countries that collectively constitute the European Union. 

Most of its instructions include that organizations must get clear consent from people before collecting and using their data that these people have full right to access, correct, and remove their data after its collection, and that organizations must notify the relevant authorities and affected people about any data breach within a particular time slot. GDPR is for every company in the world as long as they collect data about the people in the European Union. 

You can call it the “whale” of the data privacy world, just like Arlo Gilbert, the CEO of the data privacy company Osano, said;

“GDRP was really the groundbreaking framework upon which all other data privacy laws have been modeled.”

Brazil’s General Law for the Protection of Privacy

The federal law named the General Law for the Protection of Privacy (LGPD) is made to compile the 40 previous laws that control the collection and use of users’ data. Just like GDRP, the LGPD describes nine basic rights given to all Brazilian natives, such as the right to ask for information an organization gathered about them. They are also eligible to question any decision made about their data without their consent that could influence them. 

This law is for any person or organization, even the government, that collects data on people living in Brazil, no matter where the data is being processed, inside Brazil or abroad. It is a bold, strong privacy framework, Gilbert mentioned.

“Brazil is one of the largest economies in the world, and because of that it will also have a ripple effect outside of Brazil.” 

China’s Personal Information Protection Law (PIPL)

Approved in August 2021, the PIPL was the first national law that thoroughly regulates the data privacy problems in China. It specifies “personal information” as any data that belongs to an “identified or identifiable person within the People’s Republic of China” and removes de-identified information that cannot be used to recognize a particular person. 

On the other hand, sensitive personal information that, when exposed or misused, could “cause harm to the security or dignity of a person.” This information can be someone’s financial accounts, biometric data, or religious beliefs. 

The PIPL gives people the right to hear of, opt for, and restrict the use of their personal data. Using sensitive personal information is more confined and requires separate permission from the person. 

Industry-Specific Privacy Laws

In the U.S., data privacy laws and regulations have also been made according to the needs of a specific industry. We have mentioned some of them for you:

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

HIPAA was made to make sure that patients’ healthcare-related data remain confidential. It determines the privacy and security needs for the accumulation, storage, and sharing of all protected health information (PHI), information that is gathered about patients during their medical check-ups, that involves every detail from a patient’s first name to their health insurance number. Here is detailed guide on HIPAA.

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

GLBA is named after the three lawmakers who sponsored this act. It highlights how financial institutions such as companies that sell products or services like investment consultancy, insurance, or loans should process users’ private information. 

It monitors the accumulation and exposure of private financial details. Furthermore, it demands these companies implement security practices for sensitive information and warns them not to access private data under any false or deceptive act. 

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA)

Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) handles the accumulation and usage of people’s credit information. It particularly guards any data collected by consumer reporting agencies such as medical information companies, tenant screening services, and credit bureaus so that the data remains safe from anyone who doesn’t have a purpose mentioned in the act.

Challenges In Protecting User Online Data Privacy

Challenges In Protecting User Online Data Privacy

The path to keeping your data privacy intact is not easy for a digital surfer. Here are some challenges you might face along the way. 

Lack of Transparency

When you sign up for a web application, you have to provide your personal data such as your name, location, email, or phone number but the policies given by these applications can be opaque and hard to understand. You don’t really know how your data is being processed and it keeps your data privacy at stake. 

Online Tracking

Your online activity and behavior are constantly tracked online. You might have seen the “Accept all” or “Cancel” cookies pop-up displayed on your screen when you open a website. Know whether to cancel or accept it. The website is actually asking you for permission to record your activity. Although many countries demand websites to inform users about cookie usage, you don’t know how much of your online activity is recorded. 

Cybercrime

Many cybercriminals try to steal user data to carry out illegal activities, demolish secure systems, or sell your data on the dark web where it will be used for nasty purposes. Some cybercrooks initiate phishing attacks to trick users into exposing their personal information while others penetrate the companies’ infrastructures to get users’ information.

Losing Control of Data

As you use a lot of online services, you don’t really know how your data is being shared with websites you interact with, and they may not inform you how your data is being processed. You lose control of your data and it may fall into the wrong hands this way.

Social Media

It’s pretty much easy to find some online these days. You just have to type the name and search on social media platforms to find your friends and loved ones. But do you know social media feeds may expose your personal information more than you ever realized? Moreover, social media platforms often track more information than you are aware of.

Challenges In Protecting Business Online Data Privacy

Running a business is no easy feat. You must be conscious about maintaining the data privacy of your customers. The following are some challenges businesses face about data privacy. 

Data Breaches

Ever heard of a data breach before? It means the exposure of the personal information of a company’s confidential data in a massive amount. Data breaches can lead to immense violations of user data privacy if their personal details are breached and you know what? Cybercriminals are constantly evolving the ways to breach user information, 

Communication

Due to the lack of talent and resources, organizations sometimes fail to clearly tell their customers what personal information they are gathering and how it will be used. So, addressing the usage properly can save a business from a lot of future inconvenience. 

Insider Threats

Companies don’t limit the access of data to their employees, clients, and third-party sellers. That’s why, internal employees or contractors may access users’ data and use it for illicit purposes if it’s not protected properly. 

Cybercrime

Cybercriminals not only target individuals but also focus on businesses to get massive amounts of data at once. They can exploit any vulnerability found in the company’s databases and as businesses rely more on the internet day by day, the attack surface is increasing. It’s a serious threat to the data privacy of internet users.

Most Important Technologies for Data Privacy

Most Important Technologies for Data Privacy

Although cyber attacks are evolving continuously, cybersecurity is also advancing day by day to inhibit the approach of hackers. Here are some techniques that you can implement to ensure your data privacy in the U.S.

Use Encryption Tools like a VPN

Do you know what encryption is? It’s a way to hide information by disorganizing it so that it just appears as random data. Only entities that hold the encryption key can arrange and use this data. But how can I encrypt my data? Don’t worry! A robust VPN can do this for you. We are not talking about minor VPNs used to unlock some restricted geolocations. 

We are up to powerful VPNs that work on a log policy like the NordVPN offered by VPN.com. It encodes your data in such a way that only you decode it using an encryption key when it’s transmitted to the expected destination. If you want to keep your data safe get the NordVPN now!

Activate Two-Factor Authentication

Two-factor or multi-factor authentication is the most advanced technology made for regular internet users as it requires data verification from the legal owner of an account and makes it difficult for attackers to get illegal access to personal information. 

Set Strong and Unique Passwords

Don’t ever set easy-peasy passwords like your date of birth or pet’s name for your social media accounts. It makes it convenient for hackers to access your accounts easily. Instead, use complex and lengthy passwords that contain words, numbers, and special characters. A strong password is always the one that even your close ones can’t guess easily. 

Maintain Access Control

Access control indicates that only lawful parties can get access to data and systems. You can combine access control with data loss prevention (DLP) to avoid the leakage of sensitive data from your network. 

Regularly Update Software and Apps

Don’t ignore the security patches and software updates popping up on your screen. These notifications are sent to ensure your complete data privacy and prevent your data from prying eyes. So, it’s suggested to regularly update your device’s software and apps in order to avoid data breaches and malware attacks.

Be Cautious with What and Where You Share

Don’t overshare your personal information with anyone. Read the privacy policy of a website before granting them access to your data. Before giving your financial details to anyone, keep in mind the purpose of sharing them and search for how the respective party will utilize your data. Be cautious about what and where you share your confidential details. 

Monitor Your Personal Accounts

Keep track of your personal accounts and update their passwords timely. It will keep you safe from hackers and you can enjoy surfing the internet without any fear of being observed or accessed. 

Always Read the Permission and Pop-ups

Whenever you open a website or run software, you should read the permissions and pop-ups carefully. They usually contain information on how your data and online activity will be recorded. So, ignoring these notifications can cause you to pay unexpected ransoms in the future. To avoid any mishap, you must know that the first and foremost thing to achieve data privacy is to be alert and cautious.

How Does VPN.com Help Maintain Data Privacy?

How Does VPNcom Help Maintain Data Privacy

VPN.com is a leading VPN-providing company that helps internet users and business maintain their data privacy in the U.S. and keep them protected from cyber threats. VPNs like NordVPN, ProtonVPN, ExpressVPN, and many more use features like strict no-log policies, strong encryption techniques, and kill-switch to grant you control of your data by hiding your original IP address and online activity. 

All these VPNs come with SSL certificates that allow HTTPS usage on websites, contain the website’s identity, and give you proof of the validity of your public encryption key. So, what else do you need when you can control who can access your information and how? Contact VPN.com to get a powerful VPN to ensure complete data privacy and stay anonymous in the digital world of increasing cyber crimes.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is data privacy?

Data privacy means handling and protecting your personal information, such as your personal health information (PHI), and personally identifiable information (PII), such as your health records, Social Security number, and financial details. It includes both individuals’ personal data and the operational data of businesses, such as commercial research. 

What are the 3 Pillars of Data Privacy?

Confidentiality, Integrity, and Availability are the three pillars of data privacy. These are the basic principles to maintain the security of a user’s personal data in a cyber threat environment.

Are there Data Privacy Laws in the US?

The U.S. doesn’t have any national data privacy law yet. However, it has a U.S. Privacy Act of 1974 that describes how the personal information of people should be collected, maintained, used, and disseminated. Moreover, some other initiatives, like the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), also exist.

What is the Data Privacy Act in the United States?

The U.S. Data Privacy Act of 1974 controls how federal agencies can gather and use individuals’ data in their systems and records. This act forbids agencies from revealing personal information without the written permission of the individual despite some limited exceptions made by the Census Bureau for investigation purposes. 

How do Data Privacy and Security Differ?

Data privacy is the right to control who can see your personal data like bank account balance or credit card details while data security protects your information from illegal access, use, and exposure.

What is an example of Data Privacy?

One example of data privacy can be that your confidential information, like financial details or medical records, can only be seen by authorized people. You can achieve data privacy by using access control, VPN encryption, and biometric authentication.

The Bottom Line!

Data privacy is very important in the present world. It ensures that your personal information is protected from misuse and unauthorized access by cybercriminals. The U.S. has different data privacy laws like CCPA, COPPA, and HIPAA to protect your data. Although these laws are complex, a simple way to maintain data privacy is to use a VPN.

VPNs encrypt your data and hide your online activities by masking your real identity. It maintains complete data privacy both for individuals and businesses. VPN.com offers powerful VPNs like NordVPN and ExpressVPN to help you achieve data privacy. So, stay anonymous and s

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