DATA PRIVACY: Importance & Best Practices For Organizations

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You are not wrong if you are of the opinion that personal or organizational data should be kept private and away from the public. As a matter of fact, you’re not the only one. In the US, there are American laws that support data privacy and promise to punish anyone who engages in a data breach because it is considered a criminal offense. In this article, we will be discussing data privacy. More importantly, we will be discussing American data privacy laws and the protection act in California. 

But before we get to it, let us first of all, comprehend what data means in this context.

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What is Data?

Generally, data is a piece of information, while information is classified and organized data. [Emphasis on the word “classified”]. This merely implies that a set of criteria must be met in order for data to be regarded as information. In addition to being classified and organized, data must be:

  • Accurate
  • Available when needed, and
  • Complete

When data is complete and well organized, it tends to be readily available. On the other hand, when data is classified, there is only one possible interpretation:—it’s restricted from unauthorized persons or groups, hence the discussion on data privacy.

Data Privacy

Data privacy refers to the protection of an individual’s sensitive and personal information from unauthorized access, use, or disclosure. With the increase in digitalization, the risks of data privacy breaches have become more significant. Organizations, both large and small, collect, store, and process vast amounts of data from individuals, including their personal information, financial details, and browsing history. Such data is valuable and could lead to severe consequences if it ends up in the wrong hands.

Why Data Privacy?

There are a couple of reasons why certain information must be kept private. Imagine a situation where a personal conversation with a friend over the phone, Whatsapp, or Facebook Messenger that was meant to stay between the two of you is out in the public. Imagine another instance where the financial data of a company ends up in the wrong hands. Allow me to scale the matter up just a little bit. In secret service organizations like the CIA, FBI, etc., there are case files that are termed “classified”, which means that only agents with high-level clearance are allowed access to them. These case files are highly safeguarded with the consciousness that if they ever fall into the wrong hands, the organization and the founders will be destroyed completely. 

Now, back to the query “Why data privacy.” Data privacy is super important because it keeps your personal information safe from bad guys who might try to hack into it and cause all sorts of problems for you. The impact of data privacy on our daily lives is major. It is therefore advisable for individuals to opt for services that prioritize safeguarding their data privacy. On the other hand, given the growing concern of customers regarding this issue, it is imperative that, as a business owner, you consider data privacy as a significant element in your branding and business strategy.

Which is More Important: Data Privacy or Data Security?

Both keeping your data private and keeping it safe is important. Data privacy makes sure that companies use your information in the right way, while data security keeps your personal information safe from danger. Simply put, data privacy and data security should work together to give you the best possible safety for your data.

Data Privacy and Security Best Practices For Organizations

It is becoming an increasingly important issue worldwide. In recent years, there have been several high-profile cases where data breaches have resulted in significant financial losses. It has also caused reputational damage to the organizations, making it harder for them to build trust with their customers again. For this reason, it is a law to follow data privacy procedures and protect both consumers’ and organizations’ interests. 

Here are the best data privacy practices that organizations should follow:

#1. Encryption 

This method is mostly employed by secret service organizations. Encryption is a security method that restricts data access to only authorized parties. This is accomplished by converting the original data into random data using a cryptographic key. The data can only be decrypted and accessed by users who have that key. Companies should encrypt traffic between branch offices and remote workers to prevent data leaks

#2. Firewalls

Firewalls, which are used to monitor and filter network traffic, secure your network and devices by blocking illegal access. Companies should use many layers of enterprise-grade firewalls to protect their networks and servers.

#3. Data durability

Data resilience is an organization’s ability to maintain business continuity in the face of an unforeseen disruption, such as a natural disaster or data breach. Hosting online services on a cloud architecture is an effective method of ensuring data resilience.

#4. Data deletion

Data deletion, often known as “data clearing” and “data wiping,” is a software-based procedure that overwrites digitally recorded information with random binary data. Simply put, it ensures that your data is unrecoverable. This satisfies your “right to be forgotten,” according to GDPR Article 17 (General Data Protection Regulation)

#5. Backup data

The process of copying data from one location to another in order to secure it in the event of a natural disaster or cyberattack is known as “data backup.” Companies must, however, strike a balance between the necessity to keep data, and prevent data loss and the customer’s right to be forgotten.

#6. Data loss prevention (DLP).

Data loss prevention is a component of an organization’s overall security policy that guards against sensitive data loss, misuse, and illegal access. Organizations utilize tools, techniques, and practices to detect and identify indicators of compromise and prevent data loss.

What Are The 7 Principles Of Data Privacy And Protection?

These principles are:

  1. Fairness, and openness
  2. Lawfulness
  3. Data minimization;
  4. Purpose limitation
  5. Accuracy and accountability.;
  6. Storage limitation 
  7. Integrity and confidentiality;

Data Privacy Law 

As previously stated, there are American laws and protection acts that safeguard data privacy, which we will go over in this chapter. As you would suspect, technological advancements have made all types of data breaches possible. For this reason, various businesses and governments have begun to regulate the storage and use of personal data. The following are some of the most important laws to remember:

#1. California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)

The California consumer data privacy law was signed into law in 2018. This protection act gives Californians the right to know what personal data is collected, used, shared, or sold by businesses. The company doesn’t have to be headquartered in California. The law applies as long as it deals with customers from California. Way to go, Californians!

#2. Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards.

The second on the list of the American data privacy and protection act is PCI-DSS, which stands for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard. This is a set of information security standards that ensure that all companies that handle branded credit cards maintain a secure environment. If you have a credit card, it’s likely you are already protected by PCI-DSS, so don’t worry.

#3. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) 

This law prohibits computer fraud and abuse. The Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), enacted in 1986, makes it illegal to access a computer or execute a computer-related activity without authorization, or in excess of authorization.

#4. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) 1999

The GLBA of 1999 compels organizations that offer loans, financial or investment advice, insurance, or other financial products and services to explain how their customers’ information is shared and protected.

#5. Senate Bill Nevada 220

Like it is with California residents, Nevada’s Senate Bill 220 empowers customers to restrict businesses from selling their personal information to other parties. Companies must provide a toll-free number or an option in emails to opt out of having their data shared under this measure.

#6. The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 (SOX) 

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 is a federal law in the United States designed to protect investors against misleading financial reporting by firms. It requires particular methods in financial reporting and record-keeping, not only to ensure accuracy but also to ensure proper storage.

#7. GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

This is often regarded as the most strict data privacy and protection law in the world. It establishes criteria for the acquisition and processing of personal information. Although it was passed in the EU in 2016, it essentially applies to entities anywhere on the globe that target or collect data from EU citizens.

American Data Privacy And Protection Act [ADPPA]

Both data controllers and data processors are in compliance with the ADPPA. The legislative objective is to limit the abuses of tech businesses by restricting their consumer data gathering, use, and transfer. It will eventually become a consumer “Bill of Rights,” increasing transparency in the gathering, use, and sale of customer data. The law will establish basic data protection standards and mandate management control over data privacy and security.

Having mentioned entities such as data controllers and processors as being in compliance with ADPPA, they aren’t the only ones. The American Data Privacy and Protection Act also applies to large data holders that have an AGR of more than $250 million and have more than 200,000 individuals or devices with sensitive personal information.

How Does ADPPA Define Private Data

According to the American Data Privacy Protection Act (ADPPA), “private data” is any information that may be directly or indirectly attributed to a specific individual. However, information that cannot be traced back to a specific individual, information collected from employees, and information available to the public fall outside of this criteria.

Despite ADPPA’s broad definition of “private data,” its relevance lies in protecting individuals’ most private information. Government-issued identification (such as a social security number, driver’s license number, or passport number), health status, treatment, diagnosis, financial account information (such as a debit or credit card number), income, bank balance, biometric or genetic information, precise geolocation data, account login credentials, sexual orientation, and data pertaining to minors all fall into this category.

Entities are hereby required to disclose to individuals that personal information is being collected and must disclose its use in a clear and conspicuous privacy notice to them.

Can Private Information Be Given Out Without Permission?

Yes. Most of the time, businesses need your permission to share your personal information. But if they have good reasons, such as legal, and investigation purposes, they can still give it out without permission.

What Is The Purpose Limitation to Data Privacy?

One of the rules in GDPR is called “purpose limitation.” It states that businesses must be clear about why they are handling customer data. The ADPPA rule also commands entities to disclose to individuals that personal information is being collected, be clear about the purposes of the processing of the data, and only use it for those purposes. In other words, they cannot use the data for other purposes.

How Can I Protect My Data Privacy Online?

You can protect your data by doing the following

  1. Create strong passwords.
  2. Don’t overshare on social media.
  3. Use free Wi-Fi with caution. 
  4. Beware of links and attachments. 
  5. Ensure the site is secure.
  6. Check for additional protection

What Is a Data Privacy Strategy?

Simply put, a data privacy strategy is a method of evaluating and managing your data by creating plans for its safe and privacy-conscious protection.

Final Words

Everyone has got something to hide—that’s a fact. It may not necessarily be something bad or illegal, but it keeps you safe. Keep that in mind the next time you are tempted to overshare or be careless about securing such sensitive information.

Organizations should understand this too. Cyberattacks are on the rise in this era. Therefore, they must ensure that they safeguard whatever sensitive information is at their disposal with maximum discretion.

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