A show of hands please – who really believes they have any privacy today? If you’ve raised that hand, I suggest you go to Google and put in your name. Chances are, there are pages of references to you and that’s only what you can see. Every time you use your computer to do a search, buy an item, research a topic, there are unseen eyes keeping track. Ever notice how those shoes you were looking at online during your lunch break appear in the ads of the next website you visit (really shook me up the first time I noticed that).
Well this is not a rant about privacy but a wake-up call for small businesses that privacy matters may, in fact, be one of the most difficult issues your business must deal with. The next few entries will talk about the structure and applicability of U.S. and foreign data privacy laws and regulations and why they are important to your business. But first I’d like to clear up some common misconceptions. Confidentiality and privacy are different concepts. Confidentiality refers to the contractual (or potentially common law) obligation that your business has or has created to protect its own information or the information of its vendors or clients. Privacy, in most cases, refers to an individual’s “personally identifiable information” (“PII”) – which could be as simple as an individual’s name and phone number (or zip code). While PII should be treated as confidential information, there are many statutory obligations that apply to PII as well and that is what we’ll be discussing next.
Next installment, Privacy – Structure of U.S. Data Privacy Legislation, and remember, ALWAYS CONSULT AN ATTORNEY FIRST.