Data Privacy: Where Do We Draw the Line?

A lot of people have heard of data privacy but they aren’t completely sure what it means and why it matters. Simply put, data privacy is there to make sure all of your online information stays safe.

However, there have been many instances in the past where people realized their data isn’t as safe as they wanted it to be. This is why there are many laws and regulations in place. As we look into the future of data privacy we need to know what data privacy is and why it’s important.

It All Started with GDPR

If anyone showed that they understand why data privacy is important, it was the European Union when they passed the European Union’s General Data Privacy Regulation, also known as the GDPR. The GDPR recognizes what the data privacy risks are, has a very prospective approach to data privacy, and clearly states what is and what isn’t permitted.

The GDPR has had a major impact on the entire data privacy ecosystem and changed the future of data privacy forever. This legislation has a set of seven principles, some of which include data minimization integrity and confidentiality. It does a great job of showing who is responsible for data privacy.

And the GDPR is just the beginning, as other nations also plan on creating similar legislations or have already done so. For example, Brazil passed a data privacy law near the end of 2020 and we can expect a similar privacy law from India this year.

The Facebook and Cambridge Analytica Scandal

If you want proof of why data privacy matters, look no further than the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal.

In March of 2018, The New York Times worked with The Observer of London and The Guardian to investigate a data firm by the name of Cambridge Analytica. They uncovered documents that proved this company was guilty of improper use of data.

The stolen data was used to build voter profiles. When the news broke out, it put Cambridge Analytica under investigation and made a lot of people ask the question “Is data privacy a human right?”

According to the report published by Times, this investigation uncovered that in 2014, contractors and employees of this data firm acquired the private data of tens of millions Facebook users.

Not only was this a violation of data privacy, but also a great example of why data privacy matters.

Google Removing Third-Party Cookies

Google has announced that by the end of 2023, they will stop the use of third-party cookies in their browser. This decision is a part of a much larger strategy of allowing Google to still track their users but protect their privacy as much as possible.

First-party cookies will still function as before, but will require the consent of users in most cases unless the use of cookies is absolutely necessary. This shows us that the priority for data protection laws is still user consent.

The Apple and Facebook Scandal

In February 2021, Apple released an update for their iOS14 operating system that had one seemingly minor change.

They introduced the App Tracking Transparency feature, which allowed users to choose which apps on their phone would have their permission to track their online activity. This was Apple’s way of showing users how to protect data privacy.

Not many users know that a majority of apps have the ability to track web activity, something they agree with when they install the apps. And while this update made Apple users happy and underlined why data privacy is important, it angered Facebook.

The change threatened Facebook’s primary source of revenue, targeted ads, which made them $86 billion in 2020. To try to get their users to accept tracking, Facebook ran full-page advertisements in national newspapers and tested pop-ups inside their own app.

The Way Forward

More and more people are wondering how to ensure data privacy and realizing why data privacy is important. 

As we look at the future of data privacy, we can expect some big changes:

  • Countries will start to promote data sovereignty and pass laws similar to the EU’s GDPR. Those that don’t have strong protection laws will fix that problem soon.
  • Governments will start to look for ways to ensure a sustainable transfer of international data.
  • More privacy lawsuits will occur against companies that don’t meet data privacy standards.
  • An increase in insider threats aimed at people who work from home as this type of work often leads to unsecured networks that are very easy to exploit and shows us why data privacy is important in business.
  • More cautious users who understand what data privacy issues are.
  • Software that allows for data privacy automation and puts a big emphasis on user consent and preference management.

As we go on forward, we can surely expect more people to ask the question “What is data privacy all about?” And for anyone wondering “Is data privacy important?”, the answer is a definite yes.

Final thoughts

People are taking an interest in data privacy, wondering how they can ensure it. Take a look at past scandals and how governments are working to prevent them in the future, and you will see that the current goal is to provide data privacy to everyone.