The Data Privacy see-saw continues in the US, and elsewhere!

The Data Privacy see-saw continues in the US, and elsewhere!
After Donald Trump's move to allow ISPs to sell customer data without their consent drew fire from many quarters, it seems that many US states have taken matters in their own hands. What form will this technology policy take in the connected economy? Shashank Venkat finds out…

Just a few days after US President Donald Trump signed the bill repealing Internet privacy rules, it seems that key stakeholders are fighting hard to wrest back the initiative. Some states are contemplating bringing in newer regulations at the state level to force Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to respect the privacy of their customers. Unsurprisingly, traditional Democrat states such as Minnesota and Illinois are the first ones to stand up in opposition of the newer privacy laws. In fact, Seattle has already became the first city to adopt its own rules for internet privacy, which require ISPs to get customer consent before sharing their data.
The decision to allow broadband players to sell customer data to third parties without explicit permission from their customers was met with a lot of criticism from privacy advocates in the US. It seems that the state legislative action is just the first draw in this messy battle. If the outcry against this decision continues, we can easily expect more states and cities to follow suit.
Data privacy remains a burning issue not just in the US, but elsewhere as well. As Emanuel Macron takes oath in France, questions about data protection and privacy are as pertinent in Europe as they are in the US and the rest of the world. During his election campaign, Macron had questioned the internet companies' stance on encryption and signalled his intent to build a legal system to access even personal data, if it's considered a threat to national security. Whether the new French President can raw a line between data privacy and national security remains to be seen, but this will remain a simmering issue in the public sphere for some time to come.

In fact, right across the European Union (EU), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is getting a lot of attention. This new regulation will reshape the way personal data of EU residents and citizens is collected and used, and will come into force from May 2018 onwards. The GDPR will also impact businesses outside the EU that deal with personal data of EU residents. Again, the reason GDPR is replacing the archaic Data Protection Directive is the increasing demand from customers to be able to control their personal data and safeguard their privacy.
The nervousness about data privacy is quite understandable. While it’s still a far cry from Orwell's vision of a dystopian future, it is highly likely that in the near future the easy availability of personal data will lead to some massive privacy breaches. We have already seen glimpses of it in these scandals that rocked the US, the UK and India. In addition, the growing advance of the Internet of Things (IoT) means that more and more personal data could be exploited. Does that mean we are entering an era where data privacy violations will become more prevalent? We hope not!
Unfortunately, state regulations and policies haven't been able to keep pace with the developments in the world of technology. Privacy proponents and the public at large need to push for stronger reforms with a keen focus on data security and privacy. Part of this responsibility also lies with the technology companies who are building enabling solutions. They need to innovate responsibly to ensure that there are no loopholes in the system. Furthermore, tech businesses need to work closely with governments and other key stakeholders to build robust systems that cannot be breached easily.
As data becomes the most valuable resource in the world, the need for affirmative action towards data privacy and security has never been greater!

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