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Data Privacy Day – Keep your Data Safe Online (and that of your clients)

Amie Parnaby
28/01/2023
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Data Privacy Day

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Today is an important day regarding your personal and business data. It’s Data Privacy Day! While data privacy is often lumped together with Data Security and Protection, it is a concept and practice in its own right.

What is Data Privacy?

Several descriptions exist of data privacy, but many conflate its meaning with other information protection ideals and concepts. Data privacy relates explicitly to protecting personal data throughout its collection, usage, storage, and sharing. All over the world, laws, regulations, and policies dictate a person’s expectations and legal rights regarding how businesses collect, use, and share the information they have.

Data Privacy vs Data Security – What’s the difference?

Data privacy concerns the handling of personal information and the rights of people to control its use. It involves the collection, use, and sharing of personal information in a way that is consistent with an individual’s expectations and rights.

On the other hand, data security concerns protecting personal details from unauthorised access, use, disclosure, or destruction. It’s the use of technical and organisational measures to secure personal information, such as encryption, firewalls, and access controls.

In short, data privacy is focused on the ethical and legal aspects of handling personal data. In contrast, data security is focused on the technical and operational aspects of protecting personal information from unauthorised access or use.

Why Data Protection is So Important to Businesses and Customers

People are far more interested in keeping their personal details safe and secure. Still, businesses want to gain as much data as possible to target the right clients and customers and personalise their marketing as uniquely as possible. There has to be a trade-off. To get the best deals, people need to submit data. To obtain customer data, companies must promise data privacy. And let’s not forget there are legal implications too.

Here are just some of the reasons why data privacy is so important to people and businesses:

  • Legal compliance: Data privacy laws and regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in the United States, and Australian Privacy Principles (APPs) require organisations to protect personal information and provide individuals with unquestionable rights concerning their personal information.
  • Personal safety and security: Personal data usually contains significant information relating to safety. For example, if you don’t protect personal data, criminals could use it to commit identity theft or fraud.
  • Reputation and trust: Businesses that collect, store, or transfer personal information are responsible for keeping that information secure. If your company mishandles personal information, it will lead to a loss of trust and reputational damage. That’s the last thing you want.
  • Protection of personal rights: Personal data is sensitive, and the unscrupulous can use it to discriminate, stalk, or harm individuals. Data privacy measures protect individuals from having their personal information misused or mishandled.
  • Economic Damage: Data breaches always have a significant financial impact on businesses. These economic impacts include the cost of responding to the incident, the potential loss of business as a result of damage to reputation, and the cost of restoring trust and capital after the fact.

Tips for Maintaining Data Security and Privacy in Business

If you’re still here, it means you are looking for some actionable content to improve how you maintain data privacy in your business. Here is a list of security measures you can take to keep your and your clients’ data safe:

  • Privacy by design: This strategy involves integrating data privacy concerns into the development of products and services from the outset rather than as an afterthought.
  • Risk assessment: Regularly assess the risks to personal data and implement standards and processes to reduce those risks.
  • Access controls: Enforcing access controls ensures that only authorised personnel can access personal information.
  • Encryption: Encrypt personal information at rest and in transit to protect it from unauthorised access.
  • Maintaining data processing records: Keeping records of data processing activities can help organisations demonstrate compliance with data protection regulations.
  • Transparent privacy notices: Organisations should provide transparent and coherent privacy notices. They must explain how they collect, use and share the personal information given.
  • Regular Employee Training: Regularly training employees on data privacy policies and procedures can help them understand their roles in protecting personal information. Processes and responsibilities change quickly, and they need to keep up.
  • Up-to-date Software and Systems: Keeping software and systems updated help prevent vulnerabilities that attackers could exploit. Older software without regular updates has more gaps in security, and hackers have longer to perfect their breaching techniques.
  • Reviewing third-party vendors: It is essential to monitor and ensure they comply with data privacy regulations and policies. If a third-party integration leaks data that comes from your business, your business would still be liable.
  • Incident response plans: Having a plan in place to respond to data breaches or other incidents can help organisations reduce the impact of an incident.

To Summarise…

If you aren’t protecting your clients’ privacy, you are not only putting your reliability and client trust at risk, but you are also potentially putting your business at risk of legal retaliation. People don’t just expect you to respect their data privacy; most countries have laws in place to make sure you do. Even if a client doesn’t sue you, you could still face civil or criminal charges for data mismanagement. 

That’s why it is so important!

Then there are all the moral and ethical parts of looking after your clients’ data. That is just as critical! Without looking after your clients as they expect, you will soon no longer have a business because no one will come to you. Bad news travels quickly.

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