What is Data Privacy?
It can be difficult to understand what data privacy is in the digital world and its importance.
Let’s imagine that in our daily lives, we are constantly followed by a stranger during any activity, such as a visit to the doctor, or listening in on conversations between family and friends. Our privacy determines our choice in what we want to keep private, semi-public, and public. In other words, data privacy determines who we are in the digital world and what we choose to disclose. Its importance is on equal terms with our daily, physical lives, in our home life and in our jobs in Malta or beyond.
Why does Data Privacy Matter?
Privacy is a fundamental human right and is included in the UN Declaration of Human Rights. It underpins human dignity which is defined for European Union citizens under the right to dignity and is therefore a right to freedom.
Data privacy defines how our personal information should be handled based on its relative importance in the digital world. In the wrong hands, criminals can use personal information to impersonate people and commit illegal activities. These include fraud, larceny or accessing illegal/controversial online contents. It is therefore important that we exercise our fundamental human rights and protect ourselves through data privacy measures.
What are our Data Privacy Rights?
Technology and IT jobs has allowed companies to make use of personal data including demographic information and preferences to generate revenues through targeted online advertising. Data privacy rights enable individuals to have control on how their personal data is collected, stored, used, and commercialised. Through the creation of data privacy regulations in various jurisdictions such as GDPR, Data Protection Act, etc, allows individuals the following personal data privacy rights.
1. To be informed
We’ve the right to know what, how, and when our personal data is being collected. Often, our data is collected from registering on a website or aggregating our data from what is available online. Websites should be transparent and keep users informed, especially how our data is being stored and whether it will be shared or sold to third parties. Transparency is key to learn whether our data is used for purposes other than initially intended.
2. Access our personal data
We need to be able to access all personal data collected on our behalf and obtain a copy of the data. Any company that collects personal data should attend to access requests and provide copies of all information held on the individual. Such information includes personal details, text messages, etc.
At times, information needs to be changed or updated, such as an address. As data subjects, we should be able to request our personal data be amended accordingly.
4. To be forgotten
We may want to have our personal information deleted on a website or company that collected it. We’ve the right to request deletion of all data held on our behalf and receive confirmation that our data has been securely deleted.
If we’d like to change insurance provider, we should be able to request our current provider to give us a copy of our personal data in a format that can be easily used by the new provider. This helps alleviate the personal need to submit data and historical records as data subjects.
6. To restrict and/or object to processing
Personal data is collected for data subjects to interact with the company or website collecting it. In the instance where we do not want our personal data processed, we can request a processing restriction where the data will not be deleted but cannot be used. If the intent for which the data was collected changes, or there is a need for a company or website to process your data differently, we may object to this processing too.
7. To prevent automated profiling
There are instances where automated processes may profile us based on our personal data without human intervention. This may be used to determine whether a product or service can be offered to us. In practice, this kind of processing can limit the products or services of our choice. We can challenge profiling and request that human intervention is affecting our processes.
It is true that a lot can be said about data privacy alongside our human rights. Though learning the gist of data protective measures is worth the time—for the risk of data breaches can cause egregious consequences.
This article is from the Castille Quarterly Newsletter | July 2021
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