It is a well-established consensus in the tech community that data privacy will be a key issue in this decade and even more so in the future. Actually, that is an understatement, it is the number one issue this decade -because it involves our freedom. Legislations, regulations, and laws will be pivoted towards attempting maximum transparency in all business processes. This will force players in the economy to ensure that data privacy is transparent throughout. Moreover, this will not only span over the entire business industry, but will also apply to how world governments handle data. The question is will we successfully apply this framework?

Thankfully, several data regulations and privacy laws are already in place, with more than half of the world’s nations having implemented them, while the remainder of the world is on its way drafting regulations and policies that should provide a future with increased trust and peace of mind when it comes to data privacy transparency. Even still, given that the digital transformation is already here, progress in data privacy and transparency is very slow, and a large number of concerns are still nowhere near addressed.

As data scraping paradigms such as Big Data are changing how we browse and how we are monitored, as well as what happens with that data, the topic of data privacy transparency is critical going forward. It is important that data is controlled, albeit in an ethical and moral way. Thus, a massive amount of scrutiny aimed at how data is handled, particularly in this decade, has opened the road for worldwide regulations such as the GDPR, CCPA, HIPAA, COPPA and others. Adding to this, there are also several cybersecurity frameworks in place such as NIST that consolidate the protection of data and privacy. On the other hand, sometimes, this issue surpasses just our rights and transcends our personal security because the data that is gathered about us is also susceptible to breaches from external threats. So, privacy should be key not only because of the ethics and morals surrounding personal data but also because it directly impacts our safety.

Data privacy and transparency are integral parts of human rights. The right to privacy is mentioned in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, but it is not directly stated in either the U.S. Constitution or in the United Nations Constitution (although it is inferred.) The United Nations has not yet developed any concrete frameworks surrounding the right to privacy. Although, the Human Rights Council has adopted a resolution in 2017 that comprises; “34/7. The right to privacy in the digital age.” Effectively, this is evidence that we are only in the infancy of being a privacy-conscious society.

What is Data Privacy?

Data privacy refers to how information is handled. It defines the practices, laws, and standards that define, monitor, and enforce what happens with personal data; data that is shared by customers, data gathered about people in general, and whether all of this is being applied correctly. Data privacy has become increasingly focused on because we are slowly taking back control of our online rights as a society -something that was once completely unregulated. It is first and foremost a business question; about protecting consumers and allowing them to consent to what type of data is gathered about browsing habits, preferences and more. Secondly, it is a question of freedom.

Why is Data Transparency an Issue?

Customer trust all over the industry is at an all-time low, not least because cybercrime is rampant, massive data breaches are a reality, government surveillance secrets are now out of the box, and Big Data is constantly ‘doing its thing’ in the background. Adding to that, just general trust towards online entities has fallen worldwide. As new types of technology are emerging, the way data is gathered has become a great concern due to the overarching reach of automated AI algorithms that sweep massive amounts of data. Massive surveillance is also one of those concerns. At the end of the day, it is the right of every citizen of the Earth to know what is going on with their data. This is why a sudden surge of privacy consent boxes can be seen on almost every website.

Some specific examples of data privacy issues around the world are as follows;

  • Several Facebook scandals such as the Cambridge Analytica case
  • The fact that surveillance like facial recognition is invading our privacy
  • Big Data data collection is enormous and largely unenforced
  • Data breaches that have led to the data leak of hundreds of millions of accounts
  • The question of how data privacy relating to children is enforced

The above points are only skimming the surface, but give a general idea of where privacy may be headed if we are not careful.

What is The Future of Data Privacy?

The 21st century is the true beginning of technological society. As such, due to so much innovation, the size of the internet and our reliance on it, and the presence of technology in our daily lives it is necessary that we understand and control how our privacy is governed in the data-driven future. Especially as colossal tech corporations surpass the power of governments, the privacy argument stands even more true.

We are at a precipice where we have to slow down to think about what we want data to do for us in the future before we plunge over the edge. Innately, we understand the need for physical privacy, however, when it comes to something as abstract and practically infinite as the digital realm, it looks like we will need to protect ourselves from our inventions. Data is extremely profitable today, but it should never be at the expense of our rights to privacy. Technology, the internet, and data are all extremely important parts of our advancement as a society, but we need to understand where to draw the line with technology otherwise we may shoot ourselves in the foot, and lose all of our freedom in the process.

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