Data Privacy Trends

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Data privacy trends in 2021 and beyond will continue reflecting a growing consumer expectation that the organizations they entrust with their data will behave responsibly. Existing and emerging compliance regulations will play a role, as they have for several years, but more and more consumer-facing companies are understanding the link between data privacy and customer loyalty. 

Our list of five prominent data privacy trends shows that organizations are prioritizing technology centered on streamlining and automating tools that protect data and create visible audit trails to ease compliance related tasks. Data privacy will remain at the heart of the continued digitization of the global corporate landscape. 

Data privacy today

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic response has significantly impacted data privacy, especially as it relates to cybersecurity. Because so many workers were sent home to connect to work assets remotely, organizations everywhere were forced to take stock of their data privacy approaches. Changing consumer behavior — especially an increase in online shopping — has helped to accelerate the evolution of data access, as well. Companies that make it a point to safeguard customer data beyond the bare minimum have fared better overall.

Health care data collection is a new frontier for app developers

Today, more health care data is being collected by organizations that have never done business in this space. For example, apps that collect information about COVID-19 symptoms have helped to support public health efforts by adding more context to pandemic statistics. However, there are growing concerns among data privacy professionals about how this data is being collected, stored and protected. 

Developers will increasingly acknowledge the many regulations that apply to both data privacy in general as well as health care regulations like HIPAA. As consumers gain more access to their personal healthcare records, they will have more control over how they share this information with third parties, including health care apps that exist outside the traditional health care provider infrastructure. 

1. More privacy laws are on the way

​​By now, large-scale organizations have mostly become accustomed to leading data privacy regulations and have adjusted accordingly. The General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR), for example, applies to companies worldwide who collect data from people residing in the EU. The California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has also become part of the norm for organizations handling the data of California residents. Data privacy regulations have cropped up in India, China and Brazil, with even more on the way. 

According to Gartner, 65% of the world’s population will have their personal data covered under a regional or global privacy regulation by 2023. The onus will be on organizations to keep up with a constantly evolving regulatory landscape, including dedicated resources that handle duties like producing or deleting customer-requested data retrieval. The role of chief data officer (CDO) is set to become more commonplace as a result. 

In a recent Gartner article, Andrew White, distinguished VP Analyst at Gartner, said “Even organizations that have a chief data officer often task them primarily to gather, store and secure data. But if you want a data-driven culture where data and analytics drive how you excel at decision making, you need a CDO.” 

2. End users will become more aware of how their behaviors impact data privacy

Due in part to highly publicized cyberattacks like the breaches at SolarWinds, Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, public attention on data privacy has increased significantly over the past few years. Users are more aware of the value of their private data and are more likely to question how organizations of all sizes are using it. 

As a result, organizations will be under more pressure than ever to be transparent about how they collect, use and safeguard private data. Consumers are increasingly turning away from companies that do not appear to prioritize data privacy. A recent survey by Ping Identity revealed some eye-opening stats about brand loyalty and data privacy:

  • 75% of respondents said they would no longer engage with a brand online following a breach
  • 50% said they would not sign up for an online service that had recently been breached
  • 47% said they have made changes to the way they secure their own personal data as a result of recent publicized breaches
  • 54% said they were more concerned about protecting their personal information now than they were a year prior to taking the survey. 

3. Data privacy automation technology will become more popular

One inevitable result of the increase in privacy regulations and consumer expectations is a focus on data privacy automation. Software can help organizations respond to privacy requests, categorize data into different sensitivity categories and to comply with reporting requirements set out in some regulations. 

Considering that there were 331 data breach notifications per day across Europe in 2020 (a nearly 20% increase over 2019) and, according to the Ponemon Institute, the average cost of a data breach reached $8.64 million in 2020, it’s no surprise that organizations are amenable to investing in solutions that help to streamline regulatory oversight and protect data stores. 

4. The tech worker storage will impact organizations’ data privacy strategies

According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), the job outlook for information security analysts will grow by 31% through 2029, a figure that is much faster than average. In fact, this field is one of the fastest growing fields overall according to BLS, including many roles in the medical industry, where worker shortages have also been an issue over the past several years. 

Data security professionals are a scarce, valuable resource for organizations concerned about data privacy. Organizational strategies around attracting and keeping these workers will become a priority because data privacy has become central to doing business in the modern, data-driven world. 

5. The remote workforce trend will accelerate data privacy improvement plans

Organizations all over the world were forced to change their fundamental business operations on the fly when the COVID-19 pandemic became widespread in early 2020. Privacy threats that may have been put on the back burner suddenly because all too real. 

Bad actors had been lying in wait to attack corporate networks through new vulnerabilities that opened up to hackers due to insecure connections and other cybersecurity issues. For example, more than 40 million patient records were breached in 2020, according to research conducted by Protenus. 

Even as organizations have come back online, there are more remote workers than ever before. In many cases, industry analysts expect them to keep working from home for the foreseeable future, for a host of reasons. While these arrangements seem to be bringing financial benefits to many companies, they also raise the likelihood of a data breach through tactics like phishing. 

We can expect to see organizations building more robust compliance and data privacy education programs and investing more into cybersecurity solutions focused on data storage and protection. 

While 2020 was unprecedented in terms of data privacy challenges, the actual costs involved with a data breach have decreased by 1.5% over 2019, according to IBM. As organizations prioritize data privacy, new regulations go into effect and we see more advances in technologies like data privacy automation, this figure may continue improving. 

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