Data Privacy Day – It’s Time to Celebrate Some Real Progress

Data Privacy Day – It’s Time to Celebrate Some Real Progress

Congress first recognized Data Privacy Day in 2009 to raise awareness about the importance of protecting one’s personal data on the internet, yet 10 years later, Google is being blasted with a €50 million fine for violating the EU’s GDPR regulation.

Given this—and the deluge of headline-grabbing data privacy scandals, such as Facebook coordinating with Cambridge Analytica—it may be tempting to think we aren’t any better at protecting ourselves than we were 10 years ago. However, there are actually several positive signs.

First, thanks to all the headlines, our awareness of how our online information might be misappropriated is at an all-time high.

Second, in addition to increasing global privacy legislation and the impending California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), at least 34 states and Puerto Rico have enacted laws requiring private and/or governmental entities to destroy, dispose or make personal information unreadable or undecipherable. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission’s Disposal Rule requires proper disposal of information in consumer reports and records to protect against “unauthorized access to or use of the information.” The rule applies to consumer reports or information derived from consumer reports, which includes personal data and financial information.

Third, a flurry of potential consumer privacy bills is being considered by both parties in Congress. These emerging bills and various frameworks and comments reflect a clear move toward shifting the burden onto companies to handle data in a transparent way.   

Beyond these legislative remedies, which are significant, an additional motivation is compelling organizations to take data privacy seriously. Organizations that have invested in maturing their data privacy practices are now realizing tangible business benefits from these investments, according to a recent study. The study validates the link between good privacy practices and business benefits as respondents with mature data privacy programs report shorter sales delays, as well as fewer and less costly data breaches. 

Data privacy is here to stay, so don’t wait to implement the necessary initiatives to protect your employee and customer data.  Start by putting in place or strengthening your information governance program and bringing in the necessary expertise to pinpoint gaps in your privacy practices.