Data privacy is a fundamental principle of modern society. Information privacy is the intimate relationship between the collection of information about individuals, technology, and the public’s reasonable expectation of privacy. It is also referred to as data security or data privacy. The U.S. Congress – as well as the European Union – has codified and strengthened many of the rights inherent in this important principle.
As the importance of data privacy has grown, so has the need for more detailed federal regulation of its practices. Many states have passed laws regarding its protection, but the implementation of these laws varies from state to state. In some instances, the laws are considered to have been effectively implemented. Unfortunately, this has not always been the case. In fact, some jurisdictions have gone even further in undermining the protection that individuals seek through laws.
In some cases, enforcement of data privacy and other protections are weak at best. This is especially true in the face of advances in cloud computing and other internet technologies that facilitate the sharing of sensitive personal data. Many state courts have held that there is no meaningful protection of private citizens engaged in internet activity from being forced to disclose their privacy preferences online. Similarly, laws regulating the use of social media sites such as Facebook to share information with advertisers have been repeatedly cited as proof of the lack of effectiveness of these laws. In some jurisdictions, including the United States, social media users may not sue online advertisers whose messages constitute defamatory statements about them without their authorization.
Worse yet, these same jurisdictions have made it difficult to obtain judicial review of these regulations. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has determined that the federal regulations governing these issues are not valid and do not serve their intended purposes. Consequently, these laws have been rendered ineffective. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has brought an action in recent years against three major social media companies (Facebook, Google, and Twitter) for failing to obtain adequate consumer consent, failing to appropriately respond to privacy concerns, and for falsely labeling their services as secure.
The social security and other data privacy framework generally refer to the practices that go beyond the requirements that are required by law under the statutory law. The regulations set forth a number of expectations that are intended to protect the consumer from identity theft and other abuses. Despite attempts to adhere to these guidelines, efforts have often failed. For example, despite long-term promises to provide notice of data privacy and appropriate notices to users of its commercial data and information collection practices, the FTC has not brought such actions against Facebook or Twitter.
To ensure effective enforcement of data privacy and to discourage abuse of collected personal data, there are a few best practices that companies may want to consider. Companies should be aware of the limitations imposed on them by the law. They should also work with consumers and privacy advocates to address any issues that they may face regarding their data collection practices. In addition, the FTC can publish consumer-friendly publications that outline the laws and regulations that apply to their industry.
To enhance data privacy and enforcement of the data privacy and data protection regulations, companies may want to consider investing in training for their employees and supervisors. Such training can provide valuable information regarding how to go about monitoring employee use of company resources – both computer and internet-based – as well as training regarding how to handle privacy and security issues that come up. Additionally, the information provided can serve as a reference for enforcement activities. A company that is not using its resources properly or its effects may be subject to enforcement actions. The number of fines levied varies by the nature of the infraction. There are numerous methods that a company can employ to improve data privacy and data security. For instance, many companies use biometrics to capture individuals’ names and addresses, while others employ controls on the manner in which personnel access the public internet or store sensitive data. Additionally, companies may choose to implement identity theft protection protocols and can even seek the assistance of attorneys and data privacy and data security firms to address legal issues that arise.