With rising concerns about third-party organizations gaining access to a wealth of information online, citizens and governments alike have started to worry. In early 2018, those fears were realized when it was revealed that political consulting firm and data brokerage Cambridge Analytica had been harvesting the personal data of potentially millions of Facebook users without their consent.
In response, Europe quickly introduced the GDPR, or the General Data Protection Regulation, one of the strictest, most comprehensive set of laws regarding data protection in over 20 years. The GDPR brought to heel the unchecked data mining of websites and made it harder for companies like Cambridge Analytica, advertisers, marketing agencies, and others from leveraging private user information for their needs.
As pressure mounts from both the international community and millions of online users, America is now starting to introduce legislation that will protect people from the threat of data breaches. One of the first states to pass a law like this is California. The California Data Privacy Laws are one of the first of its kind in the country and is fast becoming the gold standard of data privacy protection laws in the U.S.
With its enactment, lawmakers are holding websites and social media platforms accountable for data leaks and breaches, as well as making it harder for third-party organizations from gaining access to private information without explicit and clear consent from the end-user. Although still in its infancy, many private users as well as experts in the tech industry are excited for what the California Data Privacy Laws might mean for everyone. Here are some things that might change with its enactment and enforcement:
It Will Encourage People to Join the Privacy Movement
California’s enactment of Data Protection Laws isn’t an isolated incident; already, states like Vermont, with its data broker laws and Colorado’s law that requires websites to have formal information security policies as well as increased oversight of third parties, are leading the charge against unwanted data mining. Although it started in Europe, the U.S. is now leading the charge towards data protection, and it’s likely that more states and companies will be following the Privacy movement.
It’s Shaking Up the Tech Industry
From how websites market ads to how companies interact with customers online, the new data protection laws are changing the way the tech industry operates, in a very customer/user-centric way. Many in the industry are predicting that the law is just the first in what will become a key part of the internet over the next few years. With companies like Facebook holding access to the private information of millions of people, governments will now start implementing strict penalties for even the smallest infraction, a welcome move for the millions of people that could be affected.
It Will Become More Than A Law, It Will Become a Civil Right
In the digital age, information is the new currency. With this in mind, data protection laws will not only make online privacy a privilege, it will become a basic civil right. It’s not just a question of decency; it also helps strengthen democracy and makes people less likely to be influenced by corporate or political interests. Many experts in the tech industry welcome the move, particularly the old guard, who view (and hold) the internet to its highest ideal: a democratic space that promotes the fair and free flow of information.
It Will Promote Consumer Rights
Although it will take time for other states to follow suit, the California Data Privacy Laws are leading the charge to promote customer-centricity and protect the rights of consumers. With more and more people becoming tech-savvy and embracing the promises of the internet’s democratic space, people are already less susceptible from manipulation by organizations who are focused on their self-interests. The data protection law, and other laws that will inevitably follow it, will serve as a bulwark for consumers to further their freedom on the internet and be above the machinations of advertisers, political lobbyists, and the like.
It Will Make People Realize the Value of their Data
If there’s one thing the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal taught us is that online data isn’t some intangible thing: it is a real and effective tool that malicious organizations can use to sway public opinion using disinformation and the manipulation of truth. Data protection laws will ideally help people value the kind of data they share online and keep tech companies in check so that instances of information abuse is lessened, if not eradicated altogether.
It Will Help Brands Establish Trust
Many marketing experts believe that the new data protection laws being passed are a great way for brands to build trust. In an age of customer-centricity, consumers love brands that are transparent with their business process, from where they source their products to how their services are delivered to you. With data protection laws requiring brands to be transparent about their online presence, it’s a good opportunity for companies to be more honest about how they conduct their business in order to gain one of the most valuable things in marketing: the consumers trust.
It Will Hold Big Corporations Accountable
One of the common emotions that people felt during the whole Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal was helplessness. Although there were some laws in place to protect people’s privacy online, they were lacking and rarely enforced, which lead to companies like Cambridge Analytica abusing their power while Facebook stood by and practically did nothing. Now, with these new laws in place, corporations will be held accountable and will be punished severely for any infraction.
A Brighter Future for Consumers
People already feeling the effects of the GDPR and the California Data Protection Laws: most, if not all, websites are redefining their data collection policies and are now being required to both inform visitors of their practices AND provide them with the option of opting out from data collection. It’s an unprecedented move that has made people feel a little safer and more aware of their data.
It’s an exciting time for consumers online, with these laws promising a freer, safer internet. Although basic safeguards should still be practiced, these laws make it loud and clear: your data is yours to control.