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Here’s How IT Leaders Can Adapt to Stricter Data Privacy Laws

Whether we are prepared or not, there will be a global shift toward strict data privacy rules in the coming year.

As the US moves past one of its most critical election cycles in years, data protection legislation is poised to take center stage in the coming year. This comes as many Americans have become increasingly concerned about transparency from big tech when it comes to their privacy and personal data. 

In a recent survey conducted by PWC, 85% of global consumers wish there were more companies they could trust with their data. And now the pandemic has given rise to contact-tracing mobile applications, which despite helping keep people safe, also track consumer data persistently. This led to over 60% of Americans who were surveyed feeling that their privacy has been compromised due to COVID-19 location tracking.  

It’s clear that consumers have become more aware of how their data is collected and used, and now they’re looking for answers from the government and the corporate world as to how they will be protected. A big amount of this responsibility falls on businesses and their IT teams, who will be tasked with making serious efforts to improve data security for customers, whether it was a part of their plans or not. 

This is due to the fact that GDPR in Europe and now, California’s Privacy Rights Act have set the stage for a new era of privacy protection for consumers. Americans’ appetite for data privacy legislation has grown, and now business leaders must acknowledge these challenges by developing data solutions built around compliance and trust.   

Big Tech falls under the congressional microscope

Data-reliant businesses like Apple and Facebook, which make billions of dollars annually off personal information, are keeping a close watch on the shifting privacy landscape. Google’s plans to eliminate third-party cookies from Chrome was a move towards ensuring consumer trust; and now many businesses and their IT teams are facing massive changes to their privacy and data collection practices. Google’s gesture is ironic seeing as the company is facing a $5B lawsuit after being accused of illegally invading the privacy of millions of users by continuously tracking internet usage through browsers set in “private” mode.

CPRA will set stricter privacy standards than ever before 

Many CIOs and tech teams were initially afraid of the potential impact California’s initial CCPA would have on their businesses, especially considering the massive GDPR violations that have cost organizations upwards of $228M

Businesses and their tech teams should expect to see a continued federal push from the Biden administration to implement nationalized standards for data protection. The movement is starting to take shape with the passing of California’s new CPRA law, which gives the power of consent to consumers around how businesses manage their data. This is a big win for consumers, as nearly every major data company in the financial market has holding operations in California. As a result, businesses will be held accountable to much stricter privacy regulations, causing IT teams to adhere to yet another set of potentially complicated compliance obligations.

As these regulations bring in a new era of transparency that is more customer-focused, secure, and profitable for all, businesses that rely on data should recognize that the paradigm around data has shifted for consumers. The comprehensive marketing and advertising ecosystem led us to believe that data is cheap, when in reality, it is extraordinarily valuable. The value of data will continue to rise in conjunction with consumer awareness, and as the world is more digitally connected, it will usher in a new era of data privacy and management. If CIOs and IT teams can further their understanding of how consumer data is misused, it will go a long way toward creating a more fair and open data exchange for their customers, and in positioning themselves as champions of fair and ethical practices.

Whether we are prepared or not, there will be a global shift toward strict data privacy rules. Data shows that 80% of Americans believe stricter data protection laws should be implemented to safeguard against big tech companies. The combination of international legislation, government pushback against companies like Google and Facebook, and increased consumer awareness will bring a much-needed fresh approach to how businesses conduct their data-driven customer outreach strategies in 2021.

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Neil Sweeney is the founder and CEO of Killi, a consent management platform that allows consumers to control and monetize their digital identity. In May 2018, Neil launched Killi, the world's first consumer-facing mobile application that allows consumers to opt-in and control their data and monetize it should they choose.