Data Privacy

Data Privacy Definition

Data Privacy describes the practices which ensure that the data shared by customers is only used for its intended purpose. In a world with ever-growing mountains of big data, privacy is an increasing topic of scrutiny.

Information privacy is the right of individuals to have control over how their personal information is collected and used. Many consider data privacy to be the most significant consumer protection issue today. One factor which contributes to this is growing technological sophistication, and the resulting types of data collected.

Data privacy laws such as the United States’ Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) govern specific types of data. Other examples like the Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) extend government restrictions on wiretaps to include transmissions of electronic data. The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) gives parents control over what information websites can collect from their kids. While the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) gives citizens new control over their data and their interactions with companies. Compliance officers within an organization are responsible for designing a data privacy policy so understanding data privacy regulations like these is a key element of the role.

Image depicts the personal data that is stored all over the internet, symbolizing the data privacy necessary from companies.

Data Privacy FAQs

What is Data Privacy?

At the highest level, privacy is the right of a citizen to be left alone, or freedom from interference or intrusion. Data privacy is the right of a citizen to have control over how personal information is collected and used. Data protection is a subset of privacy. This is because protecting user data and sensitive information is a first step to keeping user data private.

US data privacy laws are regulated at the federal level. There are a growing number of data privacy laws by state. One example is the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). A data privacy officer or compliance officer within each organization will ensure the practices and programs that comply with these laws. Compliance requirements for data privacy are getting more complex as different jurisdictions enact their data protection laws.

Why is Data Privacy Important?

The ability to deliver and enforce a healthy company data privacy policy is growing in importance as a measure of trust. Information privacy is becoming more complex by the minute. The sophisticated nature of technological development means new kinds of personal data are being collected from customers and citizens.

Jurisdictions including federal, states, and international bodies like the European Union are enacting new data privacy regulations. New regulations get enacted thanks to growing awareness among citizens and lawmakers who may not be data or technical experts. High-profile data breaches have created heightened concern about how data may be protected and kept private. Most regulators can exact hefty fines to enforce their data privacy requirements. Consumer and regulator concern about protecting sensitive data means jurisdictions are passing new data privacy acts and penalties to enforce them.

What are the Benefits of Complying with Data Privacy Laws?

Healthy data privacy programs which protect data and personally identifiable information have a number of benefits for organizations.

First, the fines and penalties written into data privacy regulations can be quite steep. For example, under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), organizations can be fined 4% of annual global revenue or 20 million euros. Beyond the potential punitive costs, cost-savings are possible benefits of a program that addresses key data privacy issues. Data protection regulations like GDPR require not only safeguarding user data, but also responding and sharing data upon request. Clean, efficient processes for the organization to meet these data governance obligations can reap substantial cost-savings.

In January 2019, Cisco reported that two-thirds of companies say they are seeing sales delays due to data privacy questions from their customers. Violations of data privacy erode consumer, investor, and stakeholder trust in the organization. When a stakeholder has doubts about the organization’s ability to prevent identity theft, they may be unwilling to conduct business with that organization. Conversely, this awareness makes people more likely to do business with organizations that understand their obligations under consumer data privacy laws. An organization that demonstrates a solid understanding of data privacy principles is often seen as a leader in their category. Healthy data privacy programs are only possible with investment and support from the leadership team. Smart corporate board directors will grasp the value of this approach.

Data Privacy vs Data Security?

Data privacy and data security are separate but related concepts. Both data security and privacy relate to control of the user’s data. However they have distinct meanings. Data security is the policies and procedures that apply to protecting sensitive data stored within the company from malicious intruders. These policies help ensure data confidentiality, integrity and availability.

Data privacy principles are the policies and procedures governing who may access the data. This includes people within the organization or department that has been granted access. Therefore, it’s possible to have a healthy security stance without addressing data privacy basics. However, it’s not possible to ensure data privacy without a solid security stance.

How Important is Data Privacy?

Data privacy is arguably one of the most important considerations in a company’s compliance program. Some data protection regulations have enforcement fines attached to them. Others have regulatory orders overseeing them for as many as 20 years. Guided by these laws and regulations, it behooves the organization to develop a healthy program to protect sensitive data.

Organizations that implement a healthy data privacy program reduce the number of security incidents that result in privacy breaches. Fewer breaches mean the business does not lose trust. Guarding against this erosion of trust is important to prevent losing customers or other types of business. It also saves the business from fines, multi-year penalties, or civil suits which often follow on significant breaches.

Besides an impact on the business, consider that data privacy issues can hurt the individuals affected. Loss of personally identifiable information can negatively impact individual users, customers or citizens. Cases have been reported of data subjects dealing with breach and privacy problems for decades after data loss. Beyond the punitive impacts enshrined in data protection regulations, an organization may be held liable by the individual for these issues.

Forbes reported in 2014 that 46% of organizations suffered damage to their reputation and brand value as a result of a privacy breach. The benefits of complying with data privacy laws grow in clarity every day in a world where new jurisdictions are passing their own data protection regulations.

Examples of Data Privacy Risks?

In order to secure a data privacy certification from one of the trusted audit organizations, such as ISO, SOC II, or HIPAA compliance, an organization must show they prevent data privacy risks. Some key examples of cloud data privacy challenges can include:

  1. Vulnerabilities in Web Applications
    Any software hosted in the cloud or on the web should be fully vetted and secure before deploying within an otherwise secure organization. Have a data privacy compliance checklist to protect your program before installing something new.
  2. Insiders and Poorly-Trained Employees
    Every member of your team should be fully trained and aware of the data privacy basics for which they are responsible. Care given to crafting and enforcing a corporate data privacy policy can ensure this is successful.
  3. Lacking Breach Response
    An important part of a data privacy compliance program is an incident response plan. Make sure you have a clear plan in place, rehearsed, and that the command line is ready to deploy this plan when any issues arise.
  4. Inadequate Personal Data Disposal
    Personal data should be kept only as long as the relationship with the customer or employee (and related legal obligations) are in effect. Your organization can incur significant fines under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) if this program does not perform this function.
  5. Lack of Transparency in Privacy Policies, Terms and Conditions
    Ensure every customer, vendor, user or investor can understand your privacy policies, terms and conditions. Ensure they are clear on what they are agreeing to, and on the obligations to which they are subscribing.
  6. Collection of Unnecessary Data
    Collecting data should always be done with a specific purpose for which consent has been received. Most data protection laws and regulations mandate an organization may not collect more data than is required for the transaction. A data privacy consent form can help explain your company’s policies and what the user is consenting to.
  7. Personal Data Sharing
    Be sure to inform all users before any personally identifiable information leaves the database in your organization for which permission has been granted.
  8. Incorrect or Outdated Personal Data
    Individuals have the right to rectify outdated or uncorrected personal data under most data privacy laws and regulations. This is an important update in data privacy protection. Ensure your organization has a specific policy and actionable procedures in place to allow users to exercise this right.
  9. Session Expiration Problems
    When a data subject provides personal information to a web application, session expiration can create risk. If a data subject abandons their session and their data is exposed, the organization may be held liable for this cloud data privacy breach.
  10. Data transfer Over Insecure Channels
    Always use secure channels and protocols (e.g. SFTP, TLS) to transmit sensitive data. When data is exposed through insecure channels (e.g. FTP, HTTP), incidents can occur.
  11. Extra Credit: Dealing With the Unknown
    Ensure your team, procedures, and command line are prepared for unexpected contingencies. The big data privacy challenges of the modern business landscape present new threats and compliance challenges on a regular basis. A healthy program for data governance security and privacy can adapt and adjust to keep your organization compliant and secure.

Does Emotiv offer Data Privacy Protection?

Data generated by EMOTIV products or services is automatically encrypted, stored and securely backed up to user accounts through our proprietary EMOTIV Cloud software. EMOTIV is committed to securing and handling your information with administrative, technical, and physical safeguards by design and follows all laws and regulations closely using industry-standard encryption.

You can store and access your EEG data from anywhere with peace of mind knowing that it’s fully protected and private. All EMOTIV employees are trained in secure and respectful handling of personal data, as per GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) requirements.

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