Five things we learnt from data privacy that made us smarter

Privacy blog image Five things we learnt from data privacy that made us smarter

The data privacy conversation – more concern – is one we won’t stop having. Not especially when organisations and governments constantly refuse to respect the data privacy laws. Indeed, Data Privacy is a broad term, but essentially is a part of the data protection area that deals with the effective handling of data. This includes how data should collected, stored and shared with any third parties; as well as compliance with privacy laws as applicable in different societies. We need to add that data privacy is also about the public expectation of privacy.

Let’s talk about some ideas about data privacy we all need to keep handy:

1. Privacy is the right to be left alone

In Africa, privacy is mostly a conversation for the closet. You hear parents saying, “as long as you are here, you cannot have that privacy you are asking for.” They take this conversation even to their children’s homes. Quite similar right? This is what happens with violations of privacy laws by organisations and governments.

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The ‘violators’ keep forgetting that privacy is your right to be left alone, and while it might not be challenged at this moment, it should be protected still. It is your insurance that guarantees you will be able to exercise your right to privacy when you want and if you want.

Fortunately, this has been recognised by governments worldwide and resulted in numerous data protection laws. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) represents the most groundbreaking and wholesome data protection regulation and imposes huge fines in order to protect the privacy of an individual.

Good for everyone, no one is protected from the law. And in countries like Nigeria, where data privacy is ‘a thing in the shadows’, we need to keep reminding ourselves that data privacy is important.

2. Transparency with data is paramount

In this age of data economy, true value – organisational and governmental – lies in the collected customer’s data. This means data is an asset worthy of protecting and keeping. This literally means that personal data of individuals are only borrowed.

Privacy laws enable individuals to exercise their rights, such as the Right to be forgotten, and in certain circumstances, individuals can take back ownership of their data.

In order for companies to keep the data and keep the trust, they will have to demonstrate transparency by openly communicating on what data they collect, for what purposes, who is a data processor, and so on.

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3. Consequences of non-compliance

With the development and more inclusive nature of technology, there are more effective methods of collecting and processing personal information. The important thing is to take proactive steps and measures, like implementing appropriate data safeguards or implementing data protection software that will help you guide your privacy program, automate processes, and navigate you through applicable data protection laws.

Besides international laws against data privacy breach, these days, trust is important in your dealings with others. And, when you handle the personal information of people, you need to help them trust you and stay loyal. Organisations should embrace the fact that they will need to take this into consideration when creating their business plans, strategy, and marketing activities. This is what individuals will expect.

4. Data Privacy is not the same as Data Security

To effectively protect data and comply with data protection laws, you need both Data Privacy and Data Security. And even though these two terms can look similar, their distinctions are clearer once you start to dissect them.

Data Security refers to the means of protection an organisation is taking in order to prevent any third party from unauthorised access to digital data. It focuses on the protection of data from malicious attacks and prevents the exploitation of stolen data (data breach or cyber-attack). It includes Access control, Encryption, Network security, etc.

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Data Privacy focuses on the rights of individuals the purpose of data collection and processing, privacy preferences, and the way organisations govern personal data of data subjects. It focuses on how to collect, process, share, archive, and delete the data in accordance with the law.

You need to understand how the two work together for greater good.

5. Global privacy regulations are real

GDPR is not the first privacy law. But, many data privacy laws before GDPR were outdated, given that both technology and the way we communicate and share our data has changed a lot in just a few years.

The GDPR marked the first serious intentional effort to control the excessive exploitation of personal data. And, to fine data processors and data controllers appropriately.

With GDPR, data subjects now have the power to regain control over their privacy.

These things need to become localised. Companies in Nigeria – and across Africa – need to understand the importance of protecting data.

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