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Data Privacy

The Privacy of Personalized Data

Every day, our phones and other electronic devices we use collect data on the various apps and internet platforms that we use. As technology becomes more advanced and more widely available to the global population, controversy arises from the way our personal data is handled by the various media and internet platforms we use on a daily basis.

What is Data Privacy?

Data privacy is a type of data protection that regards the handling of personal data and information that our electronics collect. When we talk about data privacy, we’re talking about the way the platforms we’re using every day handle the information that it collects from us. Every picture we post, every link we click on is being considered by the social media apps we use and by the software on our devices. According to Kirkpatrick Price a licensed CPA firm, there are four types of data:

  1. Public data: This type of data is freely accessible to the public (i.e. all employees/company personnel). It can be freely used, reused, and redistributed without repercussions. An example might be first and last names, job descriptions, or press releases.
  2. Internal-only data: This type of data is strictly accessible to internal company personnel or internal employees who are granted access. This might include internal-only memos or other communications, business plans, etc.
  3. Confidential data: Access to confidential data requires specific authorization and/or clearance. Types of confidential data might include Social Security numbers, cardholder data, M&A documents, and more. Usually, confidential data is protected by laws like HIPAA and the PCI DSS.
  4. Restricted data: Restricted data includes data that, if compromised or accessed without authorization, could lead to criminal charges and massive legal fines or cause irreparable damage to the company. Examples of restricted data might include proprietary information or research and data protected by state and federal regulations.

Conflicts with Data Privacy and Personal Information

Many problems have arisen concerning data privacy within the last two decades with the development of social media, personal data apps and other types of applications that we have gained access to with the development of new and improved technologies. Here are some of the main concerns with data privacy:

  1. Access Control: There are few laws and limitations that govern who can access the data that is collected on our devices. It is hard to determine what is being collected by various social media platforms and websites that we use on a daily basis.
  2. Location Tracking: Our devices have the ability to track our movements and our internet usage anywhere we go. Even when we aren’t using certain apps or social media services that can track us they have the ability to access the data that tracks our location and internet usage. As technology continues to develop, this type of tracking falls inline with smart surveillance technology that can track data across multiple internet platforms.
  3. Data Security: Data security is a measure of how private and secure our personal data actually is. Certain preventative measures like firewalls and data encryption can be taken by internet platforms and companies to secure our data. However, there is a grey line with the security of our personal data as there are, again, very few regulations and laws that restrict companies from accessing our data, so while our data may be secure from hackers and viruses, these companies can buy and sell our data to other companies in order to profit from it.

As the internet continues to advance, so does the ability to track and accrue personal data from internet users around the world. With how fast paced technological advancement seems to be taking place, it seems to be hard to keep up with the controversies that can arise with how personal data is handled by the companies that have it.

Mediating Data Privacy

The question of human rights has even started to become involved with the access and ownership we have over the personal data that we put into our devices and onto the internet. A major question that is being asked is how we can mediate the distribution and regulation of the data that our phones and the internet collects. Currently, in the U.S., there are no laws that directly address the right that U.S. citizens have to their privacy online. The federal government has left it up to the state governments to decide what to do. In most states, companies still have the right to sell and distribute our information without needing to notify the user. In other parts of the world, the European Union passed a comprehensive privacy law in May of 2018 that requires companies for its users to give consent in certain areas where they can share data. With a law so new, it is hard to fully determine how well data privacy laws help to protect our personal data.

With the rate at which our personal data is spread, it is hard to keep track of what information we are sharing about ourselves without even knowing. It is important to be aware of the features on our devices that collect data whether that be through the apps we have downloaded or the tracking features we have turned on in our settings. Staying informed and keeping updated on the latest developments of data privacy regulations is always a good place to start when considering and managing the privacy of your personal data.