I remember when I first started using computers and social media. I had the basic idea of online privacy, but I was overall aware. A decade later, I have experience in software development, marketing, and various other digital skills, and I’m aware of many mistakes I’ve made.
However, the majority of people online aren’t into tech, and it’s unlikely that they will go out of their own way to learn about their online privacy and rights and cookies. Thankfully, regulatory bodies have noticed the importance of limiting companies when it comes to gathering user data.
Furthermore, more than two-thirds of adult individuals started to pay attention to their online privacy and decided that their data should be protected. Eventually, we came to the current stage of online acts, regulations, and the widespread adoption of transparent approaches to data collection and handling.
Corporations and privacy problems
In the last couple of decades, we owe a lot of technological advancements to corporations. Google, Microsoft, Apple, and other popular names have contributed to the way we currently live. Some of these corporations became obsolete, while others are still holding up and even leading the market.
However, as much as they contributed to developing useful software and technology, this process had a dark side. At first, we lent a lot of our information to these companies with our full consent. Of course, giving your first and last name, as well as a phone number was a conscious decision.
The downside is that these companies gathered a lot more information than we initially gave them. Through third-party cookies, these companies had access to various types of data that they often gathered without our consent. Many individuals automatically agree to cookies or agreements, and it is our responsibility to read an alert before we accept it.
There were various data leaks in the past, and the companies themselves weren’t always the perpetrators. For example, Yahoo! Was hacked, but even though it wasn’t their direct fault, they should have had better cybersecurity measures. In the US, we see around 40 different states suing Google for violating the privacy of their citizens.
All of these problems are leading to the adoption of better laws and regulations for customer and user privacy. The goal of these regulations is to protect individuals who aren’t privacy-conscious and limit the power that these corporations have over individuals, but also the market.
Data transparency explained
Remember how I talked about companies unknowingly gathering data from users? Well, in its essence, data transparency can be explained as being the complete opposite of this action. Data transparency ensures that the users or customers are aware of all the data that the company gathers from them, why they need the data, and where is the data stored.
Overall, the crucial part of data transparency, is that the data is collected within the boundaries of the privacy laws and regulations that are valid for the region. There are both regional and multinational regulations, and companies need to adhere to both of those.
Data transparency protects the customer from the company, or anyone else that might acces their information. On the other hand, it also protects the company from being fined by a regulatory body.
The responsibility of each company is to keep track of the data transparency trends, and new regulations as they are adopted. None of the regulations come into effect immediately, allowing companies to implement the necessary changes.
Each company has the responsibility of tracking the latest news in the context of privacy regulations. Occasionally, these regulations can require a few tweaks here and there, but they can also lead to serious changes in the way that your company offers and treats customers.
Transparency in different companies
To ensure data transparency, multiple departments need to work in synergy. Although the amount to which each of them will contribute depends on the industry, each of them is involved in some part.
In many situations, the marketing department is one of the most data-hungry parts of the company. They need data to make better marketing campaigns create personas that will help marketers and content creators with their tasks, and overall improve the online presence of the company.
In other examples, companies that develop software and online services are the ones responsible for gathering and handling data. Situationally, the legal department will be the one responsible if data gets leaked.
Overall, there is no one true answer, and the individual or department largely depends on the company. If a regulatory body notices that a company isn’t implementing transparent principles, the whole company will suffer a blow to its wallet and reputation.
Data protection regulations
There was always some form of regulation when it comes to online privacy ever since the internet became more widespread. Unfortunately, many of the regulations weren’t properly carried out, thus many companies exploited the holes in the law.
Nowadays, there’s a similar situation with cryptocurrencies, where many countries haven’t defined them in their law yet. But this is a topic for another time. Thankfully, as the online world has become more important for both individual and professional matters, brilliant people have decided that it’s time to regulate the companies intruding on our privacy.
One of the most important events of data protection regulations was the adoption of GDPR. The key aspects of this document are talking about lawful and transparent processing of user data. Moreover, companies must not collect data unless the user explicitly gives them the right to do so.
This document was implemented by the European Union, yet its impact is felt worldwide. This regulation is extraterritorial, meaning that every company that operates in the countries of the European Union needs to adhere to this regulation.
GDPR was soon followed by a Californian equivalent. The CCPA is quite an important document since the majority of tech companies are based in California. It has some differences compared to GPDR, but their overall goal is the same.
Long before these two regulations, a Canadian data protection law called PIPEDA was enacted in the year of 2000. It was a predecessor to GDPR and CCPA in some ways, but it had to be further modernized once those two were put in place.
Digital markets act
It seems like the European Union has become a trendsetter in the world of online privacy. Every time a new regulation is adopted, corporations have to make changes in their structure. While this might sound like it’s unfair, it’s definitely not.
Corporations have no right to exploit the data that they’ve collected from their users. With the recently adopted European Digital Markets Act, additional measures that ensure fairness have been taken place.
Tech corporations control a large number of online traffic and data. They have an advantage over startups in many aspects. The DMA is targeted toward “gatekeepers”, a term that represents corporations such as Meta, Amazon, Apple, and others.
This act has a number of obligations that each of these companies needs to meet until March 6, 2024. The majority of these gatekeepers responded positively, and decided to do the proper steps to adhere to the act. Again, just like GDPR, the DMA is applied to companies that operate in the EU, even though they aren’t based there.
Corporations are doomed without practicing transparent data principles
The practice of gathering, selling, and misusing customer information is basically a one-way ticket into bankruptcy in the current landscape. The adoption of GDPR caused a snowball effect in the world of online privacy, causing many countries and regions to embrace the same principle. It’s also essential that the company is aware of the location of its customers.
Corporations that have established practices are now destined to change their old ways and embrace data transparency. The majority of them already switched to an ethical approach to data handling, and many of them are on the right path.
For startups, embracing data transparency ensures that they are starting off as a respectful company. Following new regulations, utilizing tools, and hiring individuals who are able to apply lessons from data privacy in their work is the future of data handling and transparency.
However, even with these regulations, don’t rely on companies to have it all handled. There are still many aspects of online privacy that are up to the individual. Don’t neglect implementing cybersecurity protocols in your company or everyday life. Do research before you give out important data such as images of identification documents to online companies.
Veljko is a student of information technology who paired his passion for technology with his writing skills. He is an emerging specialist in cybersecurity having completed courses in the field and written for popular blogs in the industry. His hobbies include weightlifting, reading history, and classic literature