Data privacy: most important regulations and 5 tips on data protection

Sara Ana Cemazar
August 26, 2021
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5
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Data privacy is one of the major trends in a highly digitalized world. As products and services become more digital, there is more concern about misuse of data and personal information.

Countries around the world are passing laws concerning data privacy, and some of these laws are industry-specific. In this article, we will approach the topic of data privacy for businesses. In other words, why is it important for companies to ensure data privacy, what are the most important data privacy regulations, and how can they ensure their data stays secure?

🔒 Get our checklist of 12 things to look for in a secure communications platform to guarantee customers’ data privacy while collaborating seamlessly.

What is data privacy and why is it important

Data privacy is a term used to describe the need for various data to stay in the hands of organizations it is supposed to.

Ensuring data privacy is becoming increasingly important and complex.

Following the abrupt move to a remote work model in 2020, many companies experienced data breaches due to remote workers. To be specific, 24% of cybersecurity leaders say their companies paid unexpected expenses to address cybersecurity breaches in 2020.

Moreover, ransomware attacks rose by 62% worldwide between 2019 and 2020. Cybersecurity experts argue that this ‘ransomware attacks explosion’ is happening due to more organizations being willing to pay the ransom to get their data back.

data privacy

This, once again, shows the importance of data privacy – since organizations know it is of utmost importance to them to keep their business critical data private. First of all, data breaches are costly: IBM research suggests that the average cost of data breach in the US is $3.8 million. Moreover, GDPR fines are being handed out at an increasing rate, with €158 million worth of fines issued in 2020 only.

Second, customers are paying more attention to which businesses they give their trust to handle their data. For example, 81% of Americans believe that the potential risks of data collection by companies outweigh the benefits. More worrying is the finding that 70% of US citizens believe their data was more secure five years ago than today.

data privacy

All these statistics speak volumes about the need to preserve data privacy. As experts at Gartner put it, data privacy is becoming a reason why people buy the product, similar to how ‘free trade’ and ‘organic’ drove sales in the past.

Data privacy laws and regulations

At the end of 2019, only 10% of the world’s population had its personal information covered under modern privacy regulations. It is expected for this coverage to rise to 65% by 2023.

There are multiple data privacy laws and regulations around the world. Some focus on special groups of people, like patients in healthcare, or children, while others are general and enforced in specific states, counties, or larger communities like the European Union.

GDPR

General Data Protection Regulation might be the most famous data privacy regulation. Since the start of its enforcement in 2018, it changed the way businesses approach data protection.

There are seven key GDPR principles:

  • Lawfulness, fairness and transparency
  • Purpose limitation
  • Data minimization
  • Accuracy
  • Storage limitation
  • Integrity and confidentiality
  • Accountability.

In other words, GDPR’s aim to protect data privacy has caused changes in how businesses collect and use personal data. For example, personal data can be collected and processed for the explicitly specified purposes, and stored only as long as necessary for the specified purpose.

As mentioned above, there was €158 million worth of GDPR fines issued in 2020. One of the biggest ones was issued to Google due to insufficient information stated in consent policies and giving too little control over how personal data is processed.

data privacy

HIPPA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act has been in power since 1996 in the US, and its aim was to specify how personal information obtained by healthcare providers is to be protected from misuse or theft.

As an important data privacy regulation, HIPAA rules apply to vendors of health care providers and health insurance companies. This is why, when it comes to software of any kind, it is easier to choose a solution that is already HIPAA compliant.

Furthermore, data privacy violations under HIPAA are costly, with a minimum fine of $50,000 and possible jail term.

COPPA

COPPA is an acronym for the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. It has been in power in the US since 1998 and its goal is to regulate online collection of personal information of children under the age of 13 by people or entities in the US.

Since complying with this data privacy law is often complicated and costly, many websites don’t allow children younger than 13 to use their services. Notable fines include $5.7 million issued to TikTok, and $170 million issued to YouTube due to multiple violations, including tracking viewing history of children under 13 for targeted advertisement purposes.

data privacy

GLBA

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is a data privacy regulation that’s in power in the US, and concerns financial services and how they process personal information.

GLBA applies to all businesses that are providing financial services or products. Penalties for non-compliance include a maximum of $100,000 in civil penalties per violation.

In sum, GLBA prescribes how customers should be notified of personal information collection, where that information is shared, how it’s used, and how it’s protected. Moreover, it requires financial institutions to create a security plan to protect customers’ data.

Under GLBA, data privacy has to be ensured in rest and in transit with encryption. Here are some of the best encrypted messaging apps to use in your company.

CCPA

California Consumer Privacy Act is an act intended to enhance data privacy for California residents. It is a GDPR counterpart in the state of California that aims to regulate how personal data is being collected, processed, and used.

Fines for CCPA are issued per violation, so they can amount up to significant amounts if there is a single data privacy breach that includes lots of people’s personal information.

🔒 Learn more about CCPA compliance settings in Rocket.Chat.

How to ensure data privacy while collaborating remotely

The world is growing increasingly digital. Hybrid work policies are implemented across the board, and digital workplaces are no longer a thing of the past.

In such changed conditions, it is crucial for teams to collaborate effectively. However, seamless team communication and collaboration should go hand-in-hand with guaranteeing data privacy for customers.

Here are our tips for ensuring data privacy in remote and hybrid collaboration environments.

Create an open conversation about data privacy and security

Maintaining data privacy is tricky, and it’s not always easy to ensure it. Moreover, data breaches are often unintentional – research shows that up to 90% of data privacy violations happen through human error.

data privacy

Therefore, it is useful to establish trust with employees and encourage them to come forward with questions and concerns about data privacy.

Assign data protection officer

Under GDPR, every company whose core activities involve sensitive data processing needs to appoint a Data Protection Officer. However, it is not a bad idea to have one even if your company doesn’t succumb to GDPR. Establishing a central point of responsibility for ensuring data privacy will help you address all the security concerns that might arise.

Provide data privacy training

As ensuring data privacy will be one of the drivers in sales for many products in the upcoming years, it would be advisable to provide training on this topic. Employees need to be aware of ins and outs of data protection in hybrid work settings. For example, do your employees know how risky it is to exchange work-related information via consumer messaging apps like WhatsApp?
They probably don’t – and it’s probably why 53% of employees admit to doing it regularly.


🔒 Have a look at our list of 18 most secure messaging apps for businesses and make sure your customers’ data privacy is never compromised.

Don’t economize on security solutions

Even though industry leaders like IBM estimate that a ‘healthy’ cybersecurity budget should make up to 14% of overall IT budget, the reality is that most companies spend around 6% on data protection solutions.


Sadly, too many companies learn the hard way that data privacy breaches are expensive, and they put businesses at risk of poor security reputation.

Obtain easy-to-use & data privacy compliant collaboration tools

One of the best ways to facilitate data privacy is to ensure that, apart from being compliance-friendly, your collaboration tools are easy to use. With this important functionality at hand, employees will be less likely to resort to exchanging work-related information on consumer apps that are less secure.


Here are some resources to help you make the best choice:

🔒 17 best team collaboration softwares to help you scale your business

🔒 Most important messaging apps’ security features

🔒 Secure messaging apps A to Z.

Make sure your data is safe with Rocket.Chat

Here at Rocket.Chat, we are eager to bring data protection into every conversation. As our VP of Product Christopher Skelly says: Compromised data protection is a disqualifying factor when it comes to collaboration and communication platforms.

Check out why we are the communication platform of choice for cybersecurity companies, and get in touch with our team to learn more about data protection with Rocket.Chat.

Sara is an SEO Strategist at Rocket.Chat. She is passionate about topics around digital transformation, workplace experience, open source, and data privacy and security.
Sara Ana Cemazar
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