Do US Companies Need to Comply with GDPR?
The question of whether US companies need to comply with GDPR can be a complex one, and depends on who your customer base is. First, it helps to explain a little more about what GDPR is, and who it protects.
The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation requires organizations to safeguard the data that they collect and protect their residents’ data rights. The law is designed to give EU residents more control over how their personal data is used.
But what does this mean for companies that aren’t within the borders of the European Union? Which companies are required to follow these guidelines? The short answer is that US companies need to pay attention to this law as well because the law is written to protect the rights of European consumers – even in a commercially global society.
What US Companies Need to Do to Comply with GDPR
If your company collects any personal data of European Union residents, you’ll need to comply with GDPR. The data could be as simple as the email addresses in a marketing list, or IP addresses of the people who visit your website.
The way this could be enforced is through the help of foreign governments through mutual assistance treaties, or other mechanisms.
What US Companies Can Do to Maintain GDPR Compliance
- Audit Your Data Collection Practices to Look for European Personal Data – It’s important for businesses to have a firm understanding of what personal information they collect, and whether any of it belongs to EU residents. If you do find this information within the scope of your audit, it’s important to take the necessary steps to become GDPR compliant.
- Begin Telling Customers Why You Process Their Data – If you process data based on user consent, you’ll need to be transparent about the information with your data subjects (the owners of the personal data you collect).
- Evaluate How You Process Data So You Can Improve – Once you understand how your data is collected and processed, you can begin to make the appropriate adjustments required to protect EU residents and maintain GDPR compliance.
- Create a Data Processing Agreement with Any Vendors – The data controller can be held partially responsible if your third-party clients violate any GDPR guidelines. A data processing agreement can help you clear up any gray areas. This includes subcontractors, email providers, cloud storage, or anyone holding onto third-party data.
- Appoint Someone Within Your Organization as Data Protection Officer – Larger organizations are required to appoint someone to this position to monitor their use of data.
- Designate an EU Representative – Some larger non-EU companies may be required to designate a representative based in the EU to manage data.
- Understand Your Role in a Data Breach – Sometimes the worst-case scenario might be inevitable. In the event of such cases, the use of encryption, and strong security measures can reduce your fines and your notification obligations in the aftermath.
Following these Steps to Maintain GDPR Compliance
American companies that process the personal data of EU residents are required to comply with GDPR. By following the steps above, you can protect the personal data of EU residents and all data subjects. This can help you avoid scrutiny from EU regulators.
US Data Privacy Laws: Are US Citizens Protected?
We tend to hear more about individual state laws when it comes to data privacy, but there are a few US data privacy laws in place that protect consumers within specific industries. Even still, there is no over-arching data privacy law in the US, like there is in Europe.
Data protection and data privacy laws are an increasingly hot issue around the world as we hear more news stories about private companies misusing the data and information that they are collecting. The European Union’s GDPR guidelines for example, is an all-encompassing, central regulation from a federal body that protects all citizens.
In the U.S, there are several vertically focused US data privacy laws that target individual sectors of the economy, such as HIPAA and health care. There are also several laws popping up that are coming from California, Nevada, and other states. The Federal Trade Commission has enforcement powers at the federal level and the state attorneys have the same power at the state level.
US Data Privacy Laws
Below are some of the privacy laws protecting US citizens. They are not as wide in scope as the GDPR.
The Privacy Act
The Federal Privacy Act addresses concerns about the creation and use of computerized databases and individuals’ privacy rights. The act is restricted to only US citizens and permanent residents of the country, meaning that no one else can sue under the Privacy Act. It also only pertains to selected federal government agencies.
In other words, citizens have the right to access data held by these government agencies, and a right to copy or correct that information. The law restricts the ability of agencies to share this information with one another, and individuals maintain the right to sue the government for any violation.
Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act
HIPAA requires healthcare providers and related organizations to implement safeguards to protect sensitive personal health information. Under HIPAA, patients have the right to access their health records and request corrections. The penalties for companies found in violation of HIPAA are based on level of negligence.
This statute requires financial institutions and other businesses that offer financial services and products to disclose how they protect and share private information. The customers are then given the right to opt out of any data sharing. Businesses in the financial services industry must protect the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of their clients’ personal information.
Financial institutions can face fines as high as $100,000 for each violation.
State Privacy Laws
California Consumer Privacy Act
The CCPA gives Californians a strong level of control over their personal data. It gives residents of the state similar control over their privacy as the GDPR in the European Union. It allows residents of the state to sue a business if it fails to implement security measures and your data is compromised in a breach.
It also allows residents to understand what data is being collected and how to access it. Residents can also find out what data is being sold or disclosed, and to whom. Residents have the right not to be discriminated against as well and can opt out of the sale of their data.
Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act
The Virginia state law gives residents more control over their data. This law is set to take effect in 2023, giving businesses an opportunity to work their way into compliance. This law will require businesses to limit their collection of data to what is adequate, relevant, and reasonably necessary. It also requires businesses to evaluate the risks associated with specific activities.
Residents have the right to access data, the right to rectification, the right to deletion, the right to data portability, the right to object to processing, and the right to be free from discrimination.
There are also many state laws that are in some form of legislative review.
What’s the Purpose of Data Protection?
Proper data protection can help you through a number of everyday circumstances.
Whether you realize it or not, as a consumer, your data is submitted everywhere. If you’ve made phone calls, used social media, filed taxes, or used wearable technology, chances are you’ve given some of your data to be able to do these things.
There are certainly benefits to partaking in these events or using this technology. In many instances, it’s a necessary step to partake in whatever technology you are looking to use. But just because it’s a necessary step in the process, doesn’t make it safe.
What is Data Protection?
To talk about the need for data protection, it helps to have a working framework of what it is. Personal data is any information that relates to a private person. In the online world, information is rampant, and often shared by the individual.
Data protection refers to any practices, safeguards, or rules that protect this personal information and the rights of the data controller. It gives residents more control over whether they must give this information up to enjoy specific products or services, and how it can be used.
The Drawbacks to Data and Why Data Protection Matters
The personal data that you choose to share often says a lot about you and who you are. For data collectors, it can serve as an insight into your thoughts, activities, and your life. This data isn’t harmless at this point, and when in the wrong hands, it can be used to exploit you.
This is especially troublesome for vulnerable members of society such as senior citizens, members or repressed or marginalized groups, or even journalists, activists, or human rights defenders. It’s why a handful of states within the U.S, and several countries around the world have taken additional steps to protect their residents’ data.
Why Citizens Need to Be Protected
There are two essential reasons for the government to step in and protect citizens’ individual data rights.
Current laws and the current reality don’t mix – Technology and innovation move faster than regulation. People find new ways to capitalize on technology, and sometimes there are people who use that technology with ill intentions.
With the internet, people have been sharing more information as part of their time online. Data protection laws help to protect people’s privacy from those who wish to exploit this information for their own personal gain. Any privacy laws that existed before the internet will not meet the needs of today’s modern world.
Corporations are not policing themselves when it comes to the use of data – A common theme within the US is that corporations and businesses can police themselves. But when an action is within their self-interest, it becomes difficult for them to stop. This is not a methodology likely to work in the favor of private residents.
A Prominent Issue
Data protection is an increasingly prominent issue around the globe, and more lawmakers are looking at how to protect their residents’ data. It’s become an important area where residents can benefit from more protection.
Encryption and Data Recovery
When it comes to creating a safer data environment, encryption is an excellent tool. There are several benefits to masking your data and communications in this manner, and it’s created a more secure environment for both businesses that store personal data, and their customers who submit it. Yet encryption and data recovery don’t mix easily.
When you choose to encrypt data or communication there is a real possibility that you won’t be able to access your data again, in the event of a loss. Encrypted data can provide headaches when it comes to data recovery.
Encryption and Data Recovery: Why is this So Complex?
When you experience data loss, you may be surprised to hear that encryption can make things more complicated. Essentially, when data is encrypted, it is scrambled into a pattern that equates to complete gibberish, without the encryption key. That key is what is necessary to unscramble the information in its original form.
The key is a specific algorithm from the hardware or software being used, and if it’s lost, it’s near impossible to make a recovery. It’s more complex and sophisticated than password protection, which can be cracked by hackers or cybercriminals.
Types of Encryption Used
There are two main types of data encryption – symmetric and asymmetric. Symmetric relies on the same key to decrypt and encrypt data. This poses a small security risk in that more people hold the key. Asymmetric encryption relies on different keys for encryption or decryption, and they’re known as public and private keys.
When you want to send someone encrypted data, you use their public key for encryption. They would then use their private key for decryption.
When Encryption is The Right Tool
It’s important to think about this for a moment. Hard drives crash. Spills happen. Hackers attack innocent people. With so much that can go wrong in the world of cyber security and data recovery, why do people still use encrypted data, even if in the event of a crisis, their data is near unrecoverable?
Encryption is certainly a risk. When you encrypt data, the gamble is that the data may also be unrecoverable, even by you. The whole purpose of data encryption is to ensure that specific data never falls into the wrong hands. It’s a method for making data and information secure enough that it’s almost impossible to recover without the key.
This is a dilemma that pits data security against data recovery. When the data security is that strong, it hamstrings any ability to eventually recover the data. Before encrypting any of your data, it’s important to determine whether the risks involved are worth it. For instance, students, home users, or anyone who isn’t concerned about the sensitive data being stored on their machine may be creating more problems in the future event of data loss.
It’s important to keep these considerations in mind when you make the decision regarding encryption in your data security efforts.
What is Web 3.0 and What Does it Mean for Data Recovery?
Web 3.0, often referred to as the semantic web, is based on creating decentralized Internet technology through public blockchains that store data. This will allow data to be stored in a way that doesn’t rely on a centralized repository, removing single-point authorities in the mix.
The focus will be on creating more intelligent and semantic websites. Large companies and websites that thrived in a Web 2.0 environment may not play as big of a role in a decentralized model. It will be interesting to follow the role of data recovery as the web continues to evolve in this way.
A Quick History of the Internet
When the Internet first came online, the focus revolved around information being disseminated through text, and the use of hyperlinks to jump from one location to another in an organized fashion. It began with a few key players and eventually grew to the point where nearly all businesses or organizations must have a website to function properly.
Desktop browsers became a fixture on personal computers and people enjoyed the conveniences of being connected in a new way, through the internet.
The web eventually evolved to emphasize user-generated content, and interactive websites. There’s a focus on social media, blogs, and other forms of sharing. This became the Web 2.0 model. The term was used to denote this shift to a more participatory form of connection.
How Web 3.0 Fits In
The focus of Web 3.0 is to build a scalable internet platform that is decentralized. Blockchain technology is being used to accomplish this. The advantage to blockchain technology is that it is a proven means for conducting peer-to-peer interaction in public, in a highly secure manner.
Blockchain is a ledger that stores data across “blocks” that are spread out but linked together in a chain. Bitcoin has used the blockchain to function in a highly safe manner. More and more entities are following this model to operate in a safe, and decentralized manner.
Web 3.0 and Data Security
As mentioned above, one of the key tenets to Web 3.0 is the usage of blockchain to create a more decentralized environment. Web 3.0 will also rely more heavily on artificial intelligence and machine learning. Even more data and information will be collected, but it will be done in a decentralized and secure manner.
As Web 3.0 continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see what the role of data recovery specialists will be. The decentralized nature of the blockchain makes it a difficult (yet not impossible) target for hackers, or anyone with ill intent. One type of attack is called an eclipse attack, where a hacker replaces a node to essentially steal the data that would reside in that location. Companies may need the services of data recovery specialists following an attack.
Despite this, Web 3.0 brings the nature of the Internet away from centralized hubs of information. It should put more power in people’s hands, and reduce the risk of the misuse of data by large companies. As this technology emerges, there will be risks and benefits to this type of data distribution model.
Data Recovery Challenges for 2022
While modern technology continues to shape the world that we live in, there are certainly trade-offs to the conveniences that this lifestyle offers. Mobile technology for example, can make data security and data recovery more complex. There are plenty of data recovery challenges for 2022 that we’ll explore a little further.
Many larger companies have the budget to consider cybersecurity and data protection measures, but it has moved from something that has become essential for every business to address.
These are the Data Recovery Challenges for 2022 You Should Be Addressing
Cybersecurity Has Become Essential
Any company that stores customer data can become a popular target for hackers, and those looking to do ill will. Employees working from personal devices or accessing company documents from public Wi-Fi can complicate cybersecurity efforts. This is an issue that must be addressed, no matter the size of your company.
The Internet of Things (IoT) Opens Up New Threats
While the Internet of Things (IoT) brings a world of new business and personal conveniences (who doesn’t want a refrigerator that can order your milk?), it can also become a source of new vulnerabilities. When one device is vulnerable to attack, it opens the entire network to be exposed. You’re only as strong as your most unsecured device.
Data Recovery for Artificial Intelligence
It used to be that data recovery efforts were limited to computers or mobile devices. But as more artificial intelligence devices come online, the data recovery industry must stay at the forefront of the new technology. The best data recovery companies will stay at the forefront by hiring the most innovative engineers to keep pace in the fast-paced of this technological development.
Web 3.0 Means Opportunity and Risk
The web is evolving once again. More websites are moving to a decentralized model, built on blockchain technology and the mass collection of more data. While blockchain has proven to be extremely safe, it’s hard to assure 100-percent safety and protection in this type of environment. As this trend continues to emerge, it could become one of the most significant data recovery challenges for 2022.
New Storage Devices
As companies continue to collect larger volumes of data, the demand for technologies to store that data continues to grow. The data recovery industry is tasked with keeping up with these new devices and establishing best practices for data recovery. For instance, many NAS systems come with high-end features that may be convenient to the customer until they experience data loss. When that happens, data recovery specialists are forced to wade through the complexities to establish the best path for data recovery.
A Year of Innovation and Data Recovery Challenges
The data recovery challenges for 2022 are going to continue to revolve around new technological developments. As new technologies come online that make all our lives a little easier and more convenient, it’s important to realize that there are tradeoffs. Data recovery companies are working to stay ahead of these technologies, but they do make the process of recovering lost data more complex.