Data Privacy and Security

Analysis: Data Privacy Laws Report

What connects the IT department, the marketing department, and legal professionals, not to mention numerous other parts of the business? Data. With so much personal user data out there, marketers can have a field day, but they still need the IT department to get hold of the data for them, and both departments need to comply with data privacy legislation.

Living in Europe, we’re protected by comprehensive laws that specify what kinds of data can be held by companies, how that data is collected, how long it’s held for, and who it’s passed on to. In the United States however, it’s another story. There is no one comprehensive privacy law in the States, instead there’s a ‘patchwork’ of laws, with individual States having their own privacy laws, the Federal government have various sectoral laws, and then of course, there’s ‘non-privacy’ laws (consumer protection laws for example) that can still be cited in privacy matters.

Not only is there a tangle of privacy laws at a State and Federal level, but the laws differ depending on the industry as well: you can sue your doctor if they disclose your personal information, but if a website discloses that same information, there’s basically nothing you can do. So with such disparate laws, can data privacy legislation in the US actually protect you?

Frankly, even living in Europe, I worry at the amount of information there is out there about me, but I do at least feel I have some protection. But living in the US? Even if I wanted to take legal action against a company I wouldn’t know where to start. With this in mind, IDG Connect surveyed legal professionals and marketers, to find out whether they think US data privacy laws are sufficient. So what do the professionals in the know think? And do they find there’s a conflict between their professional and personal views?

While both industries came back with the hardly surprising response that US privacy laws are not sufficient, I was fully expecting marketers to feel a conflict between their personal views and professional experiences. After all, an individual must surely want their own personal data protected when they’re posting on Facebook in the evening, even if they then have to sell someone else’s personal data the next day at work. Now, the results were close, but the majority came out on the side of no conflict. So maybe they’re just not that concerned about data privacy laws? Except that 72% of the marketers we surveyed don’t think that privacy laws in the States are sufficient…

So just how worried should we be about our data? Is Eric Schmidt right to worry about the “lack of a delete button on the internet”? What is your view on US data privacy legislation?


Click here to read IDG Connect's full report US Data Privacy Laws: Legal and Marketing Professionals’ Views


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Kate Hoy

Kate Hoy is Editor of IDG Connect

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