Global Online Privacy Laws
It’s No Secret.
Numerous blogs and surveys with all kinds of statistics continue to show that threats to digital privacy and security of personal information has become the number one concern of Internet users at an international and multinational level. These concerns are from the perspective of both the individual/consumer and businesses.
This privacy concern has substantially been focused on the cookie (small files that track one’s online browsing history, usually using a small piece of data sent from a website and stored in a user’s web browser while a user is browsing the given website.)
The European Union in particular was so concerned about the invasion of its citizens privacy by social media sites, such as Facebook and Google+ (who is owned by Google, just saying!), that it passed the “Cookies Legislation” in 2009, which became effective in 2011. However, as more data is collected, shared, and stored in the universe known as Cyberspace (sometimes indefinitely) the concern of additional breaches to privacy and security has expanded to the collection, processing and storing of personal data in a cross-border, multinational environment.
Why is it important for you to know about online privacy issues?
As a consumer:
- You have the right to trust that the information you post on, or provide to, a private/public company (such as social media site) is not compromised; and
- It is your obligation and right to understand any risk to your privacy and security worldwide, if/when you agree to any website’s privacy policies.
As a business:
- It is your obligation to know if the data you are collecting, processing and storing and/or sharing is in accordance and compliance with national, and if applicable, cross-border, multinational online privacy laws, in order to manage your legal risk.
Therefore, the question before each of us, consumers and businesses, is not whether most countries have a common interest in protecting privacy and individual liberties, but rather do the existing laws and social actions and conventions in your country, as well as in other areas of the world, have a commonality of purpose in addressing privacy and security as they collect, process and store personal information?
Answering the Question
To begin to answer this important question, you need to first be aware of the current laws in your own country. To that end, to the right you will find a summary of the current state, as of 2012, 2013 and 2014, of the Privacy and Security laws in Australia, Canada, the European Union and the United States of America, as these countries are closely aligned in the use of digital communications, as well as in the economic arena.
You will notice that there are huge gaps in these laws
After reviewing the laws of your country, except for the European Union, you will notice that all of the laws summarized on the right:
- Either do not address the digital protection and security of personal information or do so in a fragmented manner ; and
- The laws passed were at the federal or state levels with no consideration as to whether these laws can be applied consistently across the country itself, never mind internationally or multinationally.
About the author of this page
The information within this page has been provided to us by our colleague and friend, Judith Delaney. Judith is an attorney who specializes in global online privacy laws and issues and social media law. A member of Agnes + Day’s Crisis Intelligence Team, Judith helps organizations integrate new media strategies with business strategies to effectively manage risk associated with online compliance such as the HIPPA Omnibus Rule, global social media private and data protections and contract risk management. Click here to learn more about Judith.
Disclaimer: The information contained on this page is provided only as general information and may or may not reflect the most current developments, legal or otherwise, pertaining to the subject matter thereof. Accordingly, this information is not promised or guaranteed to be correct or complete, and is not intended to create, or constitute formation of an attorney-client relationship. The author expressly disclaims all liability in law or otherwise with respect to actions taken or not taken based on any or all of the content of this article.