Data Protection and Privacy  

Data is a highly valuable resource for an organization. Organizations can enhance their reputation and customer trust by adopting necessary strategies for data protection. Existing data protection and privacy legislations help businesses to protect data from being misused. Hence an organization must understand what data privacy is and why it is necessary to protect it. 

What is Data Protection? 

Data protection is a series of steps or actions performed to protect essential data from corruption, damage, or loss. Data protection ensures that the data is not compromised, abides by the applicable legislation, and is accessible by only authorized persons to carry out lawful processes. Data protection regulations lay down several principles that assist data availability and protection under all conditions. 

What is Data Privacy? 

Data privacy is a part of data protection which includes acceptable data handling. The concept of data privacy revolves around the collection, storage, management, and sharing of data in an organization. The guidelines for data privacy are applied according to data’s relevance and sensitivity.  

The data subject is a significant term for organizations in the context of privacy and security policies since the data collected is used to identify them. Some examples of the type of data where data privacy is mainly applied are Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and Personal Health Information (PHI). A data that can be utilized to identify an individual directly or indirectly is Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Examples of PII include email addresses, date of birth, residential address, etc. Similarly, a Personal Health Information (PHI) can be categorized as any data that refers to an individual’s medical/health condition. In addition, data that constitutes political opinions, genetic information, biometric data, etc., are regarded as sensitive personal data. 

Why is Data Privacy important? 

Organizations often handle PHI and PII as a part of their day-to-day operations. Data related to key shareholders, employees, and mainly customers are vital for steady business workflow. It is necessary to secure sensitive data from unauthorized parties. Data privacy adopted in business systems not only prevents security breaches for the company and customer but also helps to avoid penalties and increases customers’ trust and the reputation of the brand. 

Data Privacy Vs Data Security 

The concepts of data privacy and data security are different from each other. While data privacy is all about proper collection, storage, management, and sharing of data, data security is related to the methods and policies to secure sensitive information in an organization. In simple words, data security is related to how data is protected from various threats. 

Impacts – Failure to ensure Data privacy 

Negligence to ensure data privacy and resultant data breaches are still making headlines worldwide. It might be a task for organizations to achieve data compliance; however, failing to ensure data privacy may result in impacts like… 

  • Theft and misuse of business data 

Data theft and misuse of business data scenarios play out quite often in the digital world. In data theft, valuable business information is stolen to perform illegal activities or to attain financial gains. 

  • Reputational damage  

Misuse of business data stolen from an organization’s database creates aftereffects like damage to reputation. It may result in a loss of the client’s trust. An organization loses potential clients, business partners and related contacts when a data breach is often reported. 

  • Financial loss

Financial loss is unquestionably the most severe and rapid impact that hits organizations in the event of a data breach. It includes penalties for non-compliance, customer compensation, financial support for investigations, and funds for setting up new security measures.  

Case Studies  

Data protection regulations portray the intention of ensuring data privacy with large penalties. The general idea behind it is to ensure that organizations abide by data compliance laws. Several companies like British Airways and Marriott International were fined for non-compliance with data privacy and security.  

£20 million fine for British Airways 

British Airways was fined £20 million by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of the UK for the violation of the data protection regulation enacted in the European Union. The data breach in July 2018 was discovered later in September 2018. During this period, the threat actors were successfully stealing the personal information of nearly 420,000 customers by diverting the customer traffic to a vulnerable website.  

£18.4 million fine for Marriott International 

ICO fined Marriott International £18.4 million over a data breach which exposed nearly 339 million customer records. Although the breach was reported in November 2018, the unauthorized threat actors have been accessing the information since 2014.  

Data protection laws around the world 

More than 120 countries are engaged with at least one form of data protection and privacy law. It is essential to understand GDPR and other prominent legislations to efficiently secure any individual’s data.  

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – European Union 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is one of the toughest data security and privacy laws currently existing globally. GDPR came into effect on 2018 May 25. GDPR lays responsibility onto organizations which collect, use or target data related to the people belonging to the European Union. GDPR came into existence by replacing the Data Protection Directive of 1995. 

  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA) – Canada  

PIPEDA, enacted in 2001, is the federal privacy law applicable to private–sector organizations. It is a legislative framework that defines rules to be followed while collecting, using and disclosing personal data as a part of commercial activities in the country. The rules are also applicable to federally – regulated businesses like telecommunication companies, airlines, and banks that hold employees’ data.  

  • Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais (LGPD) – Brazil  

The Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais in Brazil is formulated with an inspiration from GDPR of European Union. The LGPD was enacted in August 2018. Like GDPR, the LGPD establishes certain rules for organizations to collect, handle, store, and share personal information. The regulation applies to all companies that include handling data as a part of their operation or service.  

  • Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) – Singapore  

The Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) defines a standard of protection for Personal Information. The PDPA started in 2014, enlists several requirements that control the organizations to collect, use, handle and disclose personal data in Singapore. A great highlight of PDPA enacted in Singapore is the provision of the national Do Not Call (DNC) Registry. The establishment allows people to register their Singapore telephone numbers to avoid unwanted telemarketing messages. 

  • Federal Decree-Law No. 45/2021 on the Protection of Personal Data (PDPL) – UAE  

The PDPL came into effect in January 2022. It is one of the recently established personal data protection laws. The law tries to improve the nation’s data protection standards, data handling procedures and international practices related to privacy and protection of personal data. PDPL ensures the significance of rights and duties of all related parties in an organization intending to ensure data security and confidentiality.  

How can you protect data? – Best practices 

Apart from following the rules and regulations related to data protection and privacy, every organization and related individuals can adopt certain practices and steps to protect the data from potential risks.  

  • Policies  

Policies for securing data privacy can be developed as a part of protective measures. However, it is essential to consider several best practices while designing and developing policies for protecting data privacy.  

  • Inventory of Data 

Knowledge and understanding of what data are actually collected, stored, and handled in an organization is essential to enhance the protection of personal data. The organization should always have a clear idea of how each information set is processed. Hence it is essential for organizations to inventory the data. Documenting all the data and information would help organizations employ adequate security as per the data privacy levels. 

  • Minimized data collection 

Another recommended best practice for an organization is the minimization of data collection. The organization should always make sure that only the data that is necessary for proceeding with acceptable operations are collected. The collection of additional information other than those stated by the policies can increase the liability risk of companies. Additional benefits of minimizing data collection include lesser storage spaces, processing times and bandwidth. 

Maintaining security for sensitive information and privacy of data is a challenging task for organizations. Breach of essential sensitive information can not only risk the customers and other individuals but also place the organization in a crucial position. While data protection and privacy are discussed worldwide, it is mandatory for every organization to understand data protection, data privacy, various legislations enacted for protecting personal data, and finally, the steps and practices to be followed.  

Individuals and organizations can adopt data protection and privacy awareness programs like the interactive course designed by Security Quotient to adhere to compliance best practices.  

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