We all value our privacy and when that privacy gets compromised, it’s not an enjoyable experience. A lot of what you share data-wise with companies is handed over willingly but with the hope that it’s going to be looked after.
However, that doesn’t always happen due to some businesses not being careful enough with their data collection and storage. That’s why data privacy laws have come into place to not only protect the customers who share their data with businesses but the businesses themselves too. Staying data secure online can be difficult with the increase in cybercrime too.
What are data privacy laws and what happens if you breach them? What data privacy laws are currently in place? In this article, you’ll understand how to protect your business from breaching data laws and what preventative measures you can take.
What are data privacy laws?
Privacy laws are a body of law that helps with the regulation of data storage and how that data is used. This data can be anything from personal healthcare, financial information, or identifiable information.
These privacy laws are put in place to help both parties, rather than it penalizing the individual or organization storing said data. Data privacy laws are essential in this day and age, especially as more people move on to the online world.
An article by Forbes back in 2014, found that there had been 300 data breaches involving the theft of more than 100,000 records in the last decade. This is a number that has increased greatly since, with 5.1 billion records breached in 2021 alone!
Data privacy laws are needed to keep security measures in check so that fewer records and confidential information is compromised.
What happens if you breach data privacy laws?
There are a number of things that can occur if you don’t adhere to the data privacy law in question. Whether you’re a new organization or not, everyone is given the same opportunity to be fully compliant with data privacy. Here are a few outcomes that can happen if you breach a data privacy law.
One of the main consequences of breaching a data privacy law is having to pay some form of a fine. The amount will depend on the privacy law and what they outline specifically. For some, it may be a percentage of the company turnover to maximum fines that could be in the millions.
Fines may not be so much of a problem for some businesses, but they can be for others. Financial damage can be just as severe as damage to its reputation, which can also come from data breaches.
Face a lawsuit
Lawsuits of any kind want to be avoided when you’re a business. If any company views itself as being above the law, it could quickly come crashing down to reality with the threat of lawsuits.
When breaching data privacy laws, you may find yourself in some hot water that could be financially damaging or even severe enough that it lands individuals in prison.
Loss of customers
Customer retention is essential but only 18% of businesses focus on retention. With data breaches, it can lose trust in the business’ brand. A company could end up losing a lot of customers depending on the scale of the breach and how many ended up being affected.
Examples of data privacy laws in place
What are some of the data privacy laws currently in place? There are a few that are fairly notable and this may only be the start as we see more countries introduce their own data privacy laws.
One of the most influential data privacy laws to come in place was the General Data Protection Regulation known for short as GDPR.
The law helps by governing the collection, use, and transmission of data collected within any of the 28 member countries of the EU. This law applies to all EU residents and any organizations collecting data from these individuals.
It also governs the security of the data, making sure all organizations/individuals are doing their utmost to protect the data they’re storing and how they’re using it. Anyone found breaching these laws, can expect fines of up to 20 million or 4% of the global turnover.
Learn more about GDPR here.
California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
The CCPA allows consumers to have more control over the personal information that businesses collect. It’s specific for residents within California but many businesses on a global scale may have customers within this area of the world.
There are a number of rights that the consumer has with this act which includes the right to delete personal information collected, and the right to opt-out of the sale of their personal information and this applies to many businesses, including that data brokers. You can learn more about the CCPA here.
One of the latest in the EU’s data privacy acts is the AI Act. This applies to any business within the EU that’s developing or adopting machine-learning-based software.
This is a growing technology and it’s, therefore, a privacy act that’s relative to the future of data online. Learn more about the AI Act here.
Tips to prevent data breaches
It can be challenging to avoid data leaks and cyber attacks on your business. However, there are a few preventative measures that are worth taking. It’s better to avoid a data breach than to experience the aftermath of one.
Keep data storage to a minimum.
When storing data, it’s important to limit the amount of information you’re asking for and what you’ll use that information for. To limit the damage that could be caused by data breaches, it’s good to only ask your customers for what you need in data information and to purge any old customer data asap.
Have a clear desk policy.
Not every employee is hot on making sure they file away paperwork on their desk or screen lock their computer before leaving the desk. In order to prevent data privacy breaches, it’s a good idea to implement a clear desk policy.
This means that all employee desks are empty of paperwork when they’re not present. The same goes for their desktop computer which may have easy access to data if the screen isn’t locked properly.
Review access controls.
Make sure to review your access controls when it comes to data storage. Not everyone requires access to certain files or platforms, so limit who has access and have strict criteria for new additions.
Reviewing these access controls is going to help avoid too many computers/users being logged in.
Have a secure system.
A secure system is important to have in place to help keep your data secure. Firewalls are a great solution to protect any number of desktop users that you have across your business. You may also want to have a backup/recovery system in place as this will help with any lost data that you need to retrieve.
The more security and systems in place to keep your data under lock and key, the better!
Watch out for ex-employees.
The most important thing to consider when it comes to data protection is employees who are leaving the company or who may have recently left. There should be a process in place that removes all rights and logins on the last working day of the employee who’s leaving. That way, if any employee leaves and may have intentions to steal data, they won’t be able to access said data.
Always be aware of ex-employees to ensure that there are no loose ends to tie up once they’ve left.
Why is it important to protect your business?
When it comes to your business, it’s important to be careful about the data you hold as a business. Data privacy is not something you should be nonchalant about as it has proven to cause significant damage to many businesses. Even some of the biggest companies have fallen victim to data breaches, so no one is safe!
There are many reasons why it’s important to protect your business. For example, a data breach could impact the company’s growth. To be seen to have vulnerabilities when it comes to customer data is not a good look to have.
Taking the appropriate steps to protect your business from data breaches is crucial. Being aware of what data privacy acts are out there, can also be helpful to ensure you’re remaining compliant with any that are relevant.
There are many businesses out there that will fall under the umbrella of different privacy acts, so make sure you’re keeping up to date with any new ones that crop up.