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You Are Concerned About Data Privacy – but Are You Doing Anything About It?

Lukas Grigas
Cybersecurity Content Writer

You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn’t care about their privacy. It’s human nature. You want control over what private information you share and who you share it with. Unfortunately, you can lose this control with a careless click.

What is private data?

Private data is anything that reveals information about you. It’s your name, your photos, your posts on social media, your email addresses, your IP.

Some of these details are highly sensitive. Sensitive data includes your banking information, genetic data, health records, social security number, and home address. As a rule of thumb, if you think your privacy would be violated if this data became public, it’s probably private.

What is data privacy and why is it important?

Data privacy, also known as information privacy, generally refers to a person’s ability to choose for themselves when, how, with whom, and to what extent they want to share their private data with others.

As Internet usage has become ubiquitous over the years, so has the importance of data privacy and protection. Various websites and applications often collect your private data in exchange for its services.

Some platforms and applications may exceed their reach when it comes to data collection, storage, and usage. Some may have a lax attitude toward private data protection.

The central questions to ask when we talk about data privacy are:

  1. Who has access to information about you?

  2. Who controls this access?

  3. Is it secure?

When private data falls into the wrong hands, consequences can be dire. A data breach on an online platform could put your sensitive information into the hands of cyber crooks. Users whose data is leaked are put at risk of identity theft, bank fraud, and other online-related scams and crimes. These days, data is king and there’s no way around it. Thus, it’s not surprising that its protection is paramount.

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Your privacy in the hands of the government

Various entities handle your private data. The first among them is the government and its institutions. Let’s take the justice system as an example. You cannot go to court or file a claim without revealing your identity. And that’s fine — it wouldn’t be fair to the other side if you were suing them anonymously.

Similarly, you can’t get public services (for example, electricity, a high school education, healthcare) without identifying yourself.

In a perfect world, the government does not infringe upon your privacy more than it’s necessary. In the real world, some governments store every bit of data they can get their hands on. Even worse, others engage in mass surveillance of their citizens.

Your privacy in the hands of business

You can buy apples at a stand and remain a stranger to the fruit seller. But buy apples online, and you’ll give away private information about yourself. It may be a fact as simple as that you like apples. This information will be sold to an advertiser, and the next time you go online, an ad for apples will pop up on your screen.

Almost everything you do online leaves a data breadcrumb. You have little control over how these breadcrumbs are collected.

Usually, it works like this. Before you start using a new online service, you have to read a wall of fine print. You do not do so, because you don’t want to wade through paragraphs of jargon. You click that you agree, and that’s how you begin to give away your private data. You cannot change the agreement, and you cannot bargain — it’s take it or leave it. This service will collect your data and use it for marketing purposes or sell it to the highest bidder. There’s nothing you can do about it.

It’s easy to say, “Don’t use these services.” The problem is that most online services collect information. If you want none of your private data on the internet, you have to quit using the internet. And that’s a price most people find too high to pay.

Data protection laws

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Over the years, as technology and the internet came to be an inseparable part of our lives, governments around the globe took part in creating and passing laws regulating private data. Most countries today have various laws governing data collection, storage, and usage. Here are some of the most important and impactful ones:

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR regulates data privacy laws across all EU member countries. It was designed to replace previous data regulation laws and provide greater protections and rights to individuals, essentially giving subjects the right to control their personal data and ensuring the right to be forgotten. The GDPR also outlines how individuals’ private data should be collected, stored, and used and outlines limitations. The GDPR is one of the most impactful and comprehensive regulations to have been developed in the past decade

National data protection laws

Many countries around the world, including Australia, Canada, and Japan have comprehensive data protection laws in place that outline the ways personal data should be handled much like the GDPR.

The UK to roll out its own data regulation laws

The UK is looking to roll out and fully implement its own version of the GDPR this year. The UK is looking to move away from the European GDPR to what it believes will be a more agile framework. Experts debate whether the new British regulations could endanger the data adequacy agreement it has with the EU, which facilitates data flow between companies in the EU and UK.

More data privacy and data security regulations around the world

Due to the sheer number and scale of breaches that took place in 2021, governments all around the globe will likely issue more specific regulations and requirements around breach reporting. Additional storage and usage regulations will likely make an appearance. An increase in fines related to violations of data protection regulations is also expected as governments will be looking to make examples of non-compliant businesses.

Changes in the AdTech landscape

New regulations and regulatory techniques are set to increasingly examine the use of AdTech to track individuals online. Throughout the year, we’re also expecting AdTech companies to shift toward privacy-forward business models in an effort to address changing expectations. Experts note that 2022 could also bring the death of the cookie as a means to collect data. Rob Shavell, the CEO of Abine/DeleteMedemise, suggests that the death of the cookie will be a consequence of changes within the AdTech landscape driven by new approaches taken by tech giants such as Google and Apple. Throughout 2022, we’ll see post-cookie solutions put to the test extensively.

More transparency in data privacy

With large-scale data breaches making the headlines every other day, users are much more aware of data protection laws and much more concerned about privacy in general. Trust in social media platforms over the years has plummeted to an all-time low.

Companies are expected to build trust through transparency. While it may not be an easy endeavor, those that fail to be transparent about their data collection, storage, and protection practices are likely to face excessive scrutiny from the public.

The rise of data protection as a service

Companies focusing on data security are striving to meet the increasing needs of concerned consumers. In fact, the data protection as a service market is expected to be worth $18.96BN by 2026. So it’s not surprising that tech hubs all around the world are developing new and exciting ways to scale and deploy data protection services to the end user.

What can you do?

Information privacy will become an even hotter topic once technologies create more invasive tools. You’ll be surrounded by facial-recognition cameras, smart speakers that listen to your conversations, e-textiles, wearable health monitors, and other data-gathering gadgets.

That means you must take action now:

  • Privacy protection comes with informed politicians. When you’re deciding who to vote for, choose wisely. Sure, it’s hard to find a politician who understands tech. But if enough voters begin to take privacy issues seriously, more politicians will be incentivized to become informed.

  • Use tools and services that enhance your privacy. Choose private search engines, private email providers, and privacy-focused browsers. And use encryption tools — they’re much more user friendly than they sound. NordPass itself uses state-of-the-art encryption to protect your passwords. In addition, NordVPN makes sure your traffic is invisible to your internet service provider.

  • Don’t need it? Don’t use it. Don't sign up if you don’t really need the service. And if you do need it, read the fine print before clicking “Agree.” If the fine print is too dense to be read, look for comments and reviews regarding the service’s privacy policies.

Fight for information privacy and make the internet better for all.

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