Data Privacy vs. Data Security

Data privacy is about compliance with data regulations and laws vs data security is about measures an organization takes to protect the data.  

Data vs Security

Disclaimer: This article is for general information purposes only. Don’t use this as a substitute for legal advice. Please consult with your legal counsel for specific advice in any legal manner.

Okay, now that we got that out of the way, let’s take a look at the difference between data privacy and data security. Because while they both have the word data and seem to be talking about the same thing, it’s not entirely the case. 

Imagine that it’s middle school, and you keep a diary of all your innermost workings, thoughts, and feelings. Then one of your friends finds it, reads it, and discovers all of your secrets. Of course, this is a violation of data privacy. However, if your friend tells you their secrets and you write them in your diary, one that anyone can read, then you’ve violated data security. 

While all of this can entail a bunch of drama and frenemies, it can be much more costly in the business world. So we’ll dive a little deeper into why data security policy doesn’t necessarily cover data privacy, why they differ and how to ensure a solid data governance strategy. 

What’s Data Privacy?

Data privacy is a person’s ability to determine when, how, and to what extent their personal information is shared with or communicated to external parties. This includes name, location, contact information, and online and offline behavior. Online consumers have been voicing their concerns more and more on how they want to control their data and what they’d like excluded or included. That’s why to ensure trust and transparency with your customers, and you need to be able to detail what data you’ve collected from them, aligning with their expectations and ensuring their privacy is never compromised. 

After all, many jurisdictions consider data privacy a fundamental human right, and the various data protection laws that exist today aim to protect it. 

What’s Data Security?

Data security is the process of protecting digital information throughout its entire lifecycle from various threats such as unauthorized access, corruption, or theft. From physical hardware and storage devices to software application security, it encompasses all aspects of information security and a company’s policies and procedures. 

A robust data security strategy will guard an organization from insider threats, human error, and cybercriminal activities when done right. By deploying the right tools and technology, an organization can enhance its visibility of where its critical data resides and how it’s used. The best tools will offer protections in encryption, data masking, redacting sensitive files, and automated reporting, for example. 

Key Differences between Data Privacy and Data Security

You can picture data privacy and data security as a Venn diagram and see where they overlap with the information provided earlier. This can help companies better assess and understand the strategies needed to ensure that each core concept isn’t overlooked and adequately addressed. 

The main difference between data security and data privacy is that privacy is ensured by those who’re authorized to access and use the data. Data security is more about guarding against ill-natured threats. For instance, encrypted data makes data private but not necessarily secure. 

In short, data privacy is about compliance with data regulations and laws, whereas data security is about measures an organization takes to protect the data from unauthorized third parties. 

What Laws Govern Data Privacy?

Data privacy laws do a deep dive into how and why data is collected. Overall, they aim to ensure organizations transparently communicate their policies while also giving greater control over how and when their information is used. Companies must also disclose why they collect data and its uses. 

There are a few ways an organization can legitimately collect personal information, such as with first-party data, which a user gives willingly. But there have been instances where companies violate users’ privacy, such as the Cambridge Analytica scandal with Facebook. The definition of personal information is constantly evolving, and so do the laws and legislation around this topic. 

Some of the more notable data privacy regulations include:

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) 

Since 2020, the CCPA introduced important definitions and gave broad rights to individual consumers on how entities or people can collect personal information about or from a Californian resident. In addition, users are disclosed what information was collected and if they want to continue granting access to it. 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

This is the most critical data protection legislation to date. It addresses how data is collected, used, transmitted, and the 27 member countries in the EU. Only explicit, unambiguous consent is required. Data breaches must be announced within 72 hours, and fines of up to 20 million EUR or 4% of total global turnover may be imposed should a company fail to comply. 

Brazil’s General Law for the Protection of Personal Data (LDGPD)

In 2020, Brazil also imposed a data protection law (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessoais in Portuguese, or LGPD) which is very similar to the GDPR. So as long as you process data of a Brazilian resident, even if your company doesn’t work out of Brazil, this law applies to you. Those who don’t comply could receive a fine of up to 2% of year sales revenue of $50 million Brazilian Real, equivalent to $12 million. 

All in all, good data privacy standards don’t always equate to data security and vice versa. So not only should you always ensure data compliance and privacy, but ensure that it’s protected with adequate security measures. 

Challenges Users Have to Protect Their Online Privacy

There are several challenges to ensuring consumers know what data has been collected from them and how they can regain control of their data. However, the average consumer is also much more aware and educated about their rights and any violations they might be experiencing. 

Online tracking: Cookies are notorious for regularly tracking online user behavior. While most websites require cookie banners, not everyone is necessarily aware of what’s being recorded. It’s one of the many reasons there’s been a push to minimize cookie usage, like Firefox blocking third-party cookies a few years ago. 

Losing control of data: Since the pandemic, consumers have been using online services exponentially. And this will only continue to grow. But unfortunately, because of the vast amount of websites and online interactions, users aren’t always able to understand and be aware of what data was collected and how it’s used. 

Lack of transparency: Various web applications and publications will require personal data to be shared to offer a better user experience. This can include name, email, phone number, or location, and reading every privacy policy is not necessarily feasible or easy to digest. 

What’re Ways to Ensure Fair Data Practice 

While there’s a multitude of ways to ensure fair data practice, we’ve collected a few ideas here: 

Communication: It’s not always easy to communicate what personal data was collected and how to best use it. However, putting more control into the hands of the users is one way to enhance transparency and allow them to opt-in and out as they please. 

Data quality: Not all data is created equal. In fact, by ensuring more first-party data usage than all the others, you can provide more accurate data and information to be used for your specific purposes, offering a better user experience. 

Accountability: Everyone and every department should be held accountable to implement the right principles regarding data. Even if you work with an external partner, you must ensure that their values and strategies align with how you envision your data strategy.

What Steps Does 1plusX Take to Protect Privacy? 

Privacy compliance is at the core of everything we do. We want to ensure a fair value exchange to consumers, advertisers, and publishers so that everyone can achieve their end goals with the best possible experience. With our data confidentiality and integrity principles, we ensure our clients have security safeguards for themselves and their global audiences. 

We ensure user privacy by:

  • Offering products that help our customers fulfill their legal obligations regarding data collection and processing. 
  • Continually monitoring the global privacy landscape, whether in the US, EU, Brazil, to proactively embed new standards to ensure our solutions are up-to-date. 
  • Integrating into your privacy workflows with our APIs, ensuring consistency and transparency. 

If you’re looking to enhance your data privacy and data security strategies then let’s set up a call to see what we can do for you.


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