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Data privacy restrictions are set to become more demanding (Includes interview)

The ground is shifting as consumers become more savvy about their data and what it is used for. Some analysts predict that we will all soon have our own digital wallet and be in control of our own data; others predict that businesses will discover more novel ways to draw inference from consumer spending and lifestyle activities, as data continues to be the most valuable commodity of the commerce world.

Looking ahead for Digital Journal is Rick Hedeman, Sr. Director of Business Development,

Hedeman says that the mountain of digital data is going to keep on growing and growing, and with it comes more challenges: “As we enter a new year, data sprawl continues to accelerate, data lakes are popping up all over the place, and information governance is getting much more difficult. You generally think of healthcare and financial services as the industries storing a lot of personal data, but everybody is doing it now because that is where most of the value is for today’s companies. Companies in every industry see value in knowing as much about customer behavior and sentiment as possible, but it is largely a “collect first, ask questions later” approach.”

As to what this means for the year ahead, Hedeman expaloins that: “In 2021, we will continue to see companies struggling with the data governance aspects of migrating to the cloud. This year, enterprises have used COVID-19 as an opportunity to accelerate the movement of more files and programs to the cloud. After all, with remote work, collaboration is more important than ever before.”

The cloud matter, greatly, explains Hedeman. “Businesses want to do less work on-prem and more in the cloud. However, that does not mean they want everything in the cloud. Unfortunately, many businesses know what devices and data they have, yet have little understanding of the content of their repositories. They will have to decide whether to move it to the cloud and protect it as if it is all sensitive data or take the time to learn more about the data in order to keep costs down.”

At the same time, the creep of data privacy requirements will create a tougher operating environment for companies: “Now that the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) is in place, we will likely see an increase in customers submitting data subject access requests (DSARs). However, numbers will vary tremendously from company to company. Generally speaking, individuals either don’t know or don’t care that they can ask for this information until something brings it to their attention. For example, the publicity surrounding a ransomware attack might make them think, “I’m a customer of that company. I want to know what they’ve got on me!”

He adds that: “On the other hand, some companies are testing the waters because it is so tough to comply with every DSAR. These businesses are simply refusing to search for the requested data unless and until they get sued and the settlement requires them to do so. Overall, companies are being somewhat lax about this. But we might be a lawsuit or two away from companies realizing they need to do much more.”

For the U.S., an unknown factor is the change to the governing administration. Here Hedeman notes: “It will also be interesting to see what the new administration has in mind for 2021, as Kamala Harris was behind some of the California privacy legislation.”

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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