Unfortunate things could happen when information that must be kept private goes into the wrong people. For one, private data can be used to attempt identity theft. If it’s financial information, hackers can use it to steal money from your bank account. Of course, there are rules and regulations set in place to ensure that private data are kept private, and these are what you call data privacy laws. But as helpful as they may be, unfortunately, many people don't understand how they work.
If you’re one of these individuals, it’d do you well to learn more about data privacy laws in your country, and this guide would be the perfect starting point if that’s the case.
Here’s what you need to know about data privacy laws:
1. Data Privacy Isn’t The Same As Data Security
Before anything else, you shouldn’t confuse data privacy with data security as they’re not one and the same, although they do have some similarities. So, how are they different?
For starters, data security refers to the protection of data against malicious threats such as hackers and other types of cybercriminals. In other words, it’s when you take steps to directly protect data against external threats. Data privacy, on the other hand, refers to the practice of making sure private data can be accessed, used, or modified only by authorized individuals. This then allows you to protect the data from external threats, albeit indirectly.
Since they’re two different things, there are distinctions between data security and data privacy laws. For one, a data privacy act covers a specific industry rather than the country as a whole.
2. Data Privacy Laws Are Mostly Industry-Specific
If you look closely at the law book in your country, you’ll find that not a single one covers the entirety of the country. Of course, there are certain laws pertaining to data privacy, but every single one of them focuses solely on an industry. Here’s a look at some examples:
- Digital industry. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) allows parents to control what information third parties can collect from their children.
- Banking industry. The Gramm Leach Bliley Act (GLBA) requires banks and other financial institutions to disclose their process of collecting and utilizing consumer data.
- Healthcare industry. The Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA) requires healthcare facilities to take steps to protect patient information. Moreover, these institutions must also notify patients whenever they use their data in any way.
- Commercial industry. The Federal Trade Commission Act (FTCA) prohibits unfair or unethical acts of competition that may negatively affect commerce. These may include false business claims and advertising, distribution of defective or dangerous products, and in the case of data privacy, the use of consumer data without their consent.
- Credit industry. The Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) is a federal law that promotes the privacy of the credit information provided by consumers.
Take note that certain countries may not have these laws as they only serve as an example of what industry-specific data privacy laws entail.
3. The GDPR Acts Similarly To Data Privacy Laws
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) governs how organizations collect, transmit, or utilize the personal information they collect from their data subjects. The best part about the GDPR is it applies to all members of the European Union, meaning you can keep your data safe more easily as a citizen of an EU member. In that regard, here’s what the GDPR entails:
- Before any organization collects your data, they must first seek your consent. This consent may come in many forms. One particular example is when you accept website cookies.
- Organizations must inform their data subjects within 72 hours of a data breach that may affect their personal data. This is the main reason why corporate giants like Google and Apple tend to send you emails whenever there’s been a data breach in their system.
While it’s technically not a data privacy law, the GDPR works practically the same and can be considered as such. This can be useful if your state doesn’t have any data privacy law.
Data privacy laws aim to keep your personal data private, protecting it from various threats in the process. There may not be laws that govern data privacy throughout the country, but you can always rely on data privacy laws in your state or industry. If that still doesn’t give you peace of mind, you can rely on the GDPR, a law that does the same as most data privacy laws.