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Data Privacy Laws: All You Need to Know

by Danny White

Data privacy (also known as information privacy) deals with the proper handling of data and focuses on compliance with the data protection regulations. Data privacy is also centered around how data is stored, managed, shared and collected.

These days, data protection officers (DPOs) have become crucial staff members as digitalisation has made it very convenient for organisations to analyse and collect data for various business purposes. Data protection officers often take a DPO course to ensure they can do their jobs easily and effectively.

In Singapore, organisations are required to appoint one (or more) data protection officers to ensure their compliance with the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA). In the same manner, a PDPA course is also available to provide DPOs a better understanding of PDPA and how they can implement data protection processes and policies.

Just like data security, data privacy may entail the use of personal data protection tools to ensure that data is safely handled and protected. However, data privacy goes beyond the proper handling of data, it also deals with the public expectation of privacy. It also centers around the individual as the key figure.

What are the Elements of Data Privacy?

Data or information privacy encompasses three elements, namely:

  1. Right of the individual to be left alone and have control over their personal data
  2. Procedures for proper collecting, handling, processing, and sharing of personal data
  3. Compliance with data protection laws

Why Is Data Privacy Crucial?

Data protection laws around the world are designed to give back the control over data to individuals. It is also about empowering them to know who uses their data, why it is being used, and how. This gives them power over how their personal data is being used and processed.

A survey in 2019 indicated that 73% of customers consider trust in companies crucial. That said organisations should learn how to process personal data while ensuring the privacy preferences of individuals are protected. If anything, it is what individuals expect from organisations – it is their vision of privacy.

Are Data Privacy and Data Security the Same?

Primarily, data privacy is focused on the rights of individuals, privacy preferences, the purpose of data processing and collection, and the manner organisations govern the personal data of their data subjects. Essentially, it focuses on how to process, share, archive, collect, and delete data in accordance with the law.

Data security on the other hand includes a set of standards and different measures and safeguards that an organisation adopts to prevent any third party from getting unauthorised access to data, digital or otherwise, and any intentional alteration, disclosure, or deletion of data.

Data security focuses on the protection of data from malicious attacks and ensures the exploitation of stolen data (through cyberattacks or data breaches) is prevented. Data security also involves encryption, network security, access control, etc.

Why is Data Privacy and Transparency Important?

In this age of the data economy, true company value rests in the customer data collected. In other words, data is considered a valuable asset worth protecting. What companies keep forgetting is that personal data that are processed by companies are only borrowed. Privacy laws give individuals the freedom to exercise certain rights.

For instance, in certain circumstances, individuals have the right to take back ownership of their data. To maintain trust, companies need to also demonstrate transparency by openly communicating what data they collect, who the data processor is, and for what purposes.

What are the Consequences of Non-Compliance?

Over the years, it has become very risky for companies to navigate through data privacy laws without any preparation. They will not only risk paying exorbitant fines and face lawsuits, they will also be putting customer loyalty and their reputation on the line.

For example, in 2019, Facebook was fined $5 billion in the US for violating consumers’ privacy. In 2021, Facebook’s WhatsApp messaging service was fined 225 million euros for a violation of the GDPR.

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