The right perspective on data security and privacy

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James George, Compliance Manager,
Compli-Serve SA

Data privacy is driving both today’s headlines and the tech initiatives of tomorrow. Last year saw several high-profile data breaches, shining the light on advocacy for data rights, and the reality: paying attention to data security, is no longer optional.

POPIA looms large

The push for national data privacy laws extends far and wide, such as Brazil recently passing the General Data Protection Law (Lei Geral de Proteção de Dados Pessaoais, or LGPD), which came into effect in August 2020, and India is likely to pass their Personal Data Protection Bill this year. Locally, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) becomes fully enforceable from 1 July.

More consumers are choosing to engage with businesses that meet higher standards of data privacy too. As enforcement ramps up here in SA, it’s important to prioritise, protecting customer data. According to one recent poll, 77 percent of global consumers agree that ‘data privacy is essential to them’ while 62 percent say they will continue to use companies who explain what they do with their data.

Consumers are aware of the control they should have over their data. Therefore, brand loyalty centres around trust (and trust is often best gained through transparency).

The cost of non-compliance

As the consequences for data breaches and non-compliance become more serious, so too are the management plans to keep compliance in check.  Non-compliance can be costly to both your reputation and bottom line.  Businesses must ensure data privacy standards are maintained across the board, and not just limited to financial services or the IT department. Any department that interacts with client data needs to adhere to the same data stewardship. 

To keep staff on track, data privacy and compliance require continuous learning and reinforcement. The influx of data breaches, and the systematic misuse of personal data, have fuelled consumer data privacy, and control will be a huge focus in 2021 and beyond. 

To muster trust and improve the customer experience in an increasingly competitive business landscape, more organisations will also look to give consumers ownership and control of their personal data in the coming years. Fundamentally, by combining ethical, compliant, and privacy-preserving principles with technology infrastructure built to scale for the future, society will move towards a system where the value of data will benefit both individuals and enterprises alike.

Challenge(s) accepted

There may be challenges ahead, but these should be taken in stride, as this is the journey that we are on whether we like it or not, so you may as well be equipped for the ride.

A change in mindset may be needed given how regulation like POPIA is moving forward. It’s important to consider data privacy as part of compliance, but also as an opportunity to show how safe you are as a company. It’s a chance for a customer to gain trust in your brand, depending on how well you look after their data, or perhaps how well you work together with it, in the future.