SNIA defined data privacy as an area of data protection that concerns the proper handling of sensitive data, including personal data. Also included are other confidential files and data such as certain financial and intellectual property data. Sometimes, it is also referred as information privacy.

Added Cloud Flare, data privacy generally means the ability of a person to determine for themselves when, how and to what extent personal information about them is shared with or communicated to others.

For companies, data privacy is comprised of the policies and processes that dictate how a business collects, shares and uses data. According to Hyper Proof, data privacy is often informed by government laws that apply to business in a certain location or industry.

As listed by Harvard Business School, there are four things to know about data privacy to help your organization collect and handle data with ethical and legal integrity:

  1. What Constitutes Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

    PII is any information that can be connected to a certain individual – name, address, phone number, email address, government issued ID number, bank account details, social media handles, etc.

    To consider with utmost importance is – consent should be given before any PII is collected or made public. For the sake of privacy, one method is to de-identify data or remove all PII from the database. According to Harvard Professor Latanya Sweeney, “if somebody takes a dataset that’s supposed to be anonymous and re-identifies the people in it, all kinds of harm can happen.”

  2. How to Protect Data Internally?

    Even if the company are collecting and storing customers’ data, not all employees should have access to it. Only the necessary personnel should know about this confidential information.

    Some of the steps to protect data privacy may seem obvious and within the bounds of common sense. But ensuring customers’ information should be a priority. Password protect your computer with sensitive information, use a secure file transfer method, don’t talk about confidential info with unauthorized personnel, lock all cabinets containing hard copies of data, etc.

  3. It’s a Legal Responsibility

    There are certain data privacy laws and guidelines depending on your location and industry. Make sure that you and your company are adhering to these rules.

    Case in point – there’s this General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, a data protection act passed by the European Union in May 2018. According to Harvard Business School, this law applies to any person or company that handles the data of Europeans. Its ideologies are based on lawfulness, fairness, transparency, purpose limitation, data minimization, accuracy, storage limitation, integrity, confidentiality and accountability.

    Other countries or group of nations have related guidelines. Be sure that you are aware and following the regulations.

  4. It’s an Ethical Responsibility

    Personal data gathered by the company from different individuals are powerful tools that can be utilized to good use. But you should always consider that these same data are from real people. In the wrong hands, these people’s identities and lives could be at risk. As pointed out by Harvard Business School, data privacy is not only a legal matter. But also, and as important – this is an ethical concern.

    On the other hand, if used correctly, the information collected can be the pieces to make positive impact not only for the company but as well – for the community.

    As a final reminder, Hyper Proof mentioned that you have to evaluate your company’s data privacy policies and practices to make sure you’re utilizing all the resources at your disposal to protect your clients’ data, your business’ interest and your customers’ trust in your company.