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Current Issues of Data Privacy

The development of the world and society brings people new challenges and problems that need to be addressed. As the world continues to make advances in technology and collect private information, data breaches have become common, and corporations do not take the necessary steps to protect confidential data. However, regulators have stepped up privacy requirements while consumers have been more careful about sharing their personal information with selected companies. While these facts should balance each other, there are currently many unresolved data collection and confidentiality issues. This paper will look at the underlying challenges and their current solutions to identify the changes that society requires in the collection, use, and protection of data.

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The collection of user data is most often aimed at improving services, but consumers’ reluctance to share personal data has increased due to the lack of understanding of what information is being collected and how it is being applied. Most companies guarantee that customers’ information will only be accessed for tracking trends and shortcomings and will not be shared with third parties. However, although data companies can collect emails, they are also “tracking cellphone user’s locations into a digital dragnet for law enforcement” (Valentino-DeVries para. 5). This practice has become widespread in the investigation of crimes since the police have a legal basis for requesting from companies, usually Google, data on customers’ movements and use them as evidence (Valentino-DeVries). This practice also has some restrictions partly ensuring data confidentiality; however, it diminishes users’ confidence in companies and technologies because it means that they are observed continuously, and their information can be used against them.

However, the issue of tracking brings significant benefits to businesses and brands. Third-party data, collected in a software development kit, can add significant value, allowing brands to go beyond their consumer base and grow the size of their targeted audience. Supermarkets, shopping malls, and other public places hide Bluetooth beacons in different parts of the premises to track customers’ movements (Kwet). Such devices respond to retailers’ applications on the phone, record movement, and can determine that a customer has lingered near a shelf and send an alert about a discount (Kwet). Kwet notes, “In the United States, another company, inMarket, covers 38 percent of millennial moms and about one-quarter of all smartphones, and tracks 50 million people each month” (para 11). This approach can benefit both the customer and the company by providing relevant guidance. However, Bluetooth beacons can be rented, and it is difficult to identify who collects what information (Kwet). Consequently, user data can be compromised, but the company responsible for this will be difficult to hold accountable. Thus, another issue of data collection and security arises, lowers users’ confidence, and must be regulated by law.

Nevertheless, the increasingly common problems with information leaks and unethical use of data have forced governments to impose regulations. For example, in 2018, the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which defines the purposes and rules for collecting and storing data, as well as penalties for violating them (Anant et al.). California has passed a similar law, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which restricts the way companies collect and use data and lets users know how their information is used (Anant et al.). Such solutions improved data security and encouraged companies to invest in this area and shape the image of an organization that cares about the privacy of its customers. Anant et al. noted that users are “more likely to trust companies that react quickly to hacks and breaches or actively disclose such incidents to the public” (para. 12). In addition, users themselves have received more opportunities to take care of their data security using various tools that restrict its collection and delete it from some sites.

Furthermore, the issue of data protection became critical during the pandemic, as most of the companies moved most of their operations online. As large companies sent employees to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, IT departments had to find new ways to keep employee and corporate information safe in an increasingly digital workplace. For example, to protect corporate data and provide remote access, employees had to provide the information necessary to connect to secured channels. This information includes “patch and configuration management for the relevant system, multifactor identification, and secure-access management, on-premise application security for remote access, device virtualization capacity and security, and contingency resources” (Mikkelsen, Soller and Strandell-Jansson para. 22). At the same time, companies need to ensure that all this data is safe, as well as develop principles and rules according to which the responsibility for a breach lies with the employer or employee.

Thus, current practices demonstrate that the development of technologies for collecting and analyzing big data is beneficial for companies; however, they often violate the privacy of users’ information. The main problems are ensuring the safe storage of data and the rules for their collection, use, and transfer since the current legislation still has significant gaps. However, governments’ efforts demonstrate that these problems can be solved by the implementation of regulations and laws, although it will take a long time to meet all the emerging issues.

Works Cited

Anant, Venky et al.” The Consumer-Data Opportunity and the Privacy Imperative.” McKinsey & Company, 2020.

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Kwet, Michael. “In Stores, Secret Surveillance Tracks Your Every Move.” The New York Times, 2019.

Mikkelsen, Daniel, Soller, Henning and Strandell-Jansson, Malin. “Privacy, security, and public health in a pandemic year.” McKinsey & Company, 2020.

Valentino-DeVries, Jennifer. “Tracking Phones, Google Is a Dragnet for the Police.” The New York Times, 2019.

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