Why Data Privacy is Your Next Big Issue, and Could be Your Business’s Greatest Advantage

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More than a social media annoyance, digital and data privacy is this decade’s next big issue, and demand for data privacy is increasing. Understandably so; the need for privacy is a fundamentally personal issue, but extends to our homes, our communities, our businesses, and ultimately our governments.

Ever since the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data privacy has become a red-button issue. The mishandling of personal data can result in serious financial consequences as well as reputational damage.

However, the problem is that most companies have never operated with a privacy-first perspective. This means that there are many gaps in the process that could leave personal data vulnerable.  

Consider also the voice-activated devices that are listening all the time, and the clicks and swipes that are being used to collect data on consumers, and the case for increased data privacy to win customer trust is reaching critical mass. 

As a result of these worldwide privacy breaches by big tech, forums like the new ACM Technology Policy Council have been mobilised to coordinate goals and activities for global issues like algorithmic bias and online privacy. This is an indication of the driving urgency for governments and private organisations to yield to growing privacy concerns.

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What this means for business

Until now, consumers have begrudgingly exchanged reasonable amounts of their personal information in exchange for the convenience of shopping online or gaining  access to information. However, when consumers fully understand the consequences of this exchange they will look to businesses to protect their data and relinquish control back to them, the customer, and favour them above those who do not. Privacy is no inhibitor, but it could be your competitive advantage.

Greater pressure for regulatory compliance is causing more of a focus on privacy in businesses of every sector. These regulations, plus increased consumer demand, are the strongest drivers for organisations to develop privacy programs. Some well-known privacy regulations are:

  • General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
  • California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
  • Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA)

With explicit requirements around the handling of personal data, there are often significant financial consequences associated with noncompliance. Understanding the potential costs of noncompliance has made many organisations invest in privacy controls.

  • GDPR has a maximum fine of €10 million or 2% of global annual turnover.
  • HIPAA has a maximum penalty of $1.5 million per year.

Now is the time for organisational leaders to strategise around how to mitigate the fear and mistrust that is flooding the marketplace. Strategies around upholding privacy concerns, such as providing verifiable solutions, traceability and transparency, without disrupting the user experience (UX) with annoying privacy notifications and limitations, need to be put in place.

Is Data Privacy Like IT Security?

The short answer: no. A common assumption is that security and privacy are one and the same, but they’re not. Organisations may have IT security in place and assume that this is enough to meet their privacy obligations, however these are two different functions. 

Security’s role is to protect and secure assets, of which confidential data – especially personal data – is a large focus. The consequences of a personal data breach can be severe, including the loss of customer trust and potential regulatory consequences. As a result, we often think of how we use security to protect data.

But that is not equivalent to privacy.

Privacy must be thought of as a separate function. While there will always be ties to security in the ways it protects data, privacy starts and ends with the focus on personal data. 

Beyond protection, privacy extends to understanding why personal data is being collected, what the lawful uses are, how long it can be retained, and who has access to it.

Establishing Data Privacy in Your Business

Don’t wait until a privacy incident has occured before you take action. Start building a privacy program now. Integrating privacy into your business will ensure that consumers’ personal data is only collected for legitimate reasons, and will help to minimize the impact of a potential breach.

This will also thrust the organization forward in terms of efficiency and consumer trust. We make use of our Privacy Framework to understand your current state of privacy and strategise around what the target state looks like for the organisation.

The Temporary Disruption of Implementing a Privacy Program is Worth It in the Long Run

Implementing a data privacy program may cause a lot of headaches within an organisation. It will require existing processes to change, and there may be a lot of internal resistance. Simple tasks may seem more challenging or inefficient after adjustments are made to account for privacy.

However, a data privacy program presents an enormous opportunity to the organisation to gain consumer trust and preference. There is an increasing demand for privacy by customers as their awareness of how personal data should be handled grows.

We Make it Easier: Start with Tandem CIO

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Tandem CIO takes the headache out of implementing a data privacy program in organisations of any size. We cover everything from high-level governance items to the more tactically defined areas.

With years of experience in data security and privacy, your data privacy advantage is secure with us.

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Contact Us Today to Initiate Your Data Privacy Program with Confidence.