The landscape of privacy laws is continually evolving. It’s likely to keep changing as consumers demand more transparency and control over their data.
As a small business, it’s challenging to keep up with all the new privacy laws taking effect throughout the United States and the world. It can seem like a never-ending race.
But it doesn’t have to feel that way.
With steadfast effort and some help, it’s possible to secure your customers’ privacy and stay up to date on the policies that apply to your business.
Keep reading to learn:
- What privacy laws are
- What are examples of privacy laws
- How privacy laws affect your business
- What you can do to protect your company
What Are Privacy Laws?
Privacy laws are legal guidelines for the use, collection, management, sharing, storage, and security of personal information by businesses, organizations, governments, or individuals. Personal information includes personal details, financial information, or health care records.
These laws can be applied at the local, state, federal, or international level.
Examples of Privacy Laws
- California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)
- Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)
- Fair Credit Reporting Act
- General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
- Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
- Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)
GDPR was implemented in 2018 and it enforced stricter privacy guidelines for anyone who does business with citizens of the European Union.
On Jan. 1, 2020, CCPA went into effect, which impacts any company that collects information from Californians. The law aims to give more control to consumers over the personal data collected by businesses.
According to the CCPA website, the law is set on four principles for the consumer:
- The right to know how and why the data is collected from them and its use
- The right to delete the information they share
- The right to opt-out of their information being sold
- The right to non-discrimination to uphold their rights
How Will Privacy Laws Affect Your Business?
Not every privacy law will apply to your business. CCPA, for example, only applies to companies that deal in California and meet one of these conditions:
- Earn at least half of annual revenue from selling data from Californians
- Earn global gross income exceeding $25 million
- Gather data of more than 50,000 California citizens, households, or electronic devices
While a small business might not meet those guidelines, adhering to stricter privacy laws is more a question of a when, not if. More laws are frequently proposed that affect how small businesses handle their customers’ information.
What Can You Do to Protect Your Company and Customers?
When it comes to security, proactive is better than reactive. You can take steps to ensure your company’s privacy practices are up to par.
According to an August 2019 ESET survey, 44.2% of business owners claimed to have never heard of the CCPA, even though it was set to take effect in a few months.
Don’t let this be you.
Subscribe to legal publications or blogs and follow news of any significant privacy law changes.
Assess Your Data Practices
Do a data audit on your business so you can map out how data is collected, used, and stored by your company.
Continually Evaluate Security and Policies
Ensure your security is working, and information is consistently protected.
Be Transparent and Clear
Make sure your policies are thorough and easy to understand. If you’re transparent with your practices, customers will feel safe doing business with you.
Get Every Department on the Same Page
Data privacy and security shouldn’t only be the concern of your company’s marketing and sales departments. Make sure every department works together, from IT to accounting.
Hire Legal Counsel or a Staff Member
A lawyer that can guide your privacy practices is a worthy investment. While it might put a dent in your budget, a lawsuit could cost a lot more.
You can also seek the advice of a privacy consultant. Or, if your company handles a lot of personal information, consider hiring a chief privacy officer.
Your company’s privacy strategy should never be an afterthought. As privacy laws become stricter, it’s likely your company will have to adhere to new guidelines.
Stay informed, do a data audit, have clear policies, engage your whole company, and hire personnel with a focus on privacy. These measures will make privacy a priority at your company.
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