2024 Data Privacy Day marks a significant milestone in the ever-evolving data privacy landscape. It presents unique challenges and compliance demands to businesses. John Edwards, the Information Commissioner stresses the need for “clarity and regulatory certainty” and “a proportionate approach to demonstrating accountability” in data protection.
This blog explores significant trends and strategies aiding businesses in effectively managing data privacy.
Trends and Challenges
- Evolving Privacy Regulations
The ICO’s recent consultations on “Keeping Employment Records” and “Recruitment and Selection” highlight the criticality of accurate data management in employment. Businesses should review these documents, to see if they are likely to comply with the expectations set out in them and consider responding to the consultations.
The EU Data Act, effective January 2024, establishes a cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and usage. It encompasses regulations for connected products and services, presenting both opportunities and challenges that hinge on a company’s business model and adaptability.
The upcoming UK Data Protection and Digital Information (DPDI) Bill, signifies a departure from the EU GDPR in the UK, presenting both challenges and opportunities, especially for cross border operations. Understanding its impact on data handling and compliance is vital for organisations. For instance, it will allow organisations to self-assess if the data protection standards in the destination country align with those in the UK. Organisations will be required to familiarise themselves with the new data protection test and factors considered for these assessments.
- Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Privacy
On 15 January 2024, the ICO initiated series of consultations on how elements of data protection law apply to the development and use of Generative AI (GenAI). It will explore various aspects of GenAI such as lawful basis for using web-scraped personal data to train models. This represents a significant step in addressing the evolving challenges and opportunities presented by Gen AI technologies.
The European AI Act is the first comprehensive legislation for AI. It is expected to be adopted later this year. The Act will impose strict obligations on providers and users of AI systems. For example, it requires organisations to risk assess their AI systems and imposes controls on AI tools, while banning certain use cases such for instance, those impacting fundamental rights.
In 2024, further privacy regulations are expected like the FTC amendments to the Federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act requiring entities to obtain parental consent to disclose children’s information to third party advertisers. In the UK following on from ICO’s work on its Age-Appropriate Design Code, there is continued focus on compliance, especially for online platforms, in light of broader child safety concerns, as accentuated by the UK ‘s Online Safety Act.
The European Data Protection Board (EDPB) ‘s cookie pledge aims to protect user rights by simplifying cookie management and personalised advertising choices. While this initiative enhances transparency and user control over data processing, adherence to its principles does not equate to compliance with GDPR or ePrivacy Directive. For businesses, this initiative adds another layer to consider in their digital strategies and user management policies.
Businesses previously lax in complying with cookie consent requirements, should consider sorting their cookie banners properly as the ICO ‘s stance on cookie consent enforcements, is intensifying, with potential implications for companies that are not complying with cookie banner regulations.
- International Data Transfers
A surge in adopting European Union Standard Contractual Clauses (SCCs) and UK specific requirements for international data transfers is anticipated, as there are still companies that rely on pre-GDPR SCCs to transfer personal data from the UK / EU to non-adequate countries. Businesses had a transition period to update their contracts to the new SCCs, introduced after GDPR came into effect with a deadline of March 2024. One of the challenges organisations faces is navigating multiple frameworks, ensuring adequacy and compliance, and monitoring legal developments.
- Data Breach Preparedness and Incident Response
Data breaches are constant threat to businesses, and their impact can be devastating. In the context of data breaches, it is important to highlight the new cybersecurity requirements, that expand the scope of cybersecurity risk management and reporting obligations outlined in the EU’s Network and information Security Directives (NIS2). UK businesses operating in EU or handling EU data may need to comply these regulations and adjust their cybersecurity strategies. Key requirements include robust risk management measures, stricter incident reporting obligations and comprehensive security and notification policies. The directive aims to increase the overall resilience and security of critical infrastructure across EU.
Strategies for navigating privacy regulations
Regular compliance audits and assessments
Conducting periodic reviews on privacy policies and procedures aligning them with latest guidance. Given the fast –paced nature of the privacy landscape, this helps businesses to effectively communicate their data practices in a clear and compliant manner.
Investing in Privacy Training and Awareness
Educating employees and decision makers about privacy regulations, ethical AI data handling and understanding data transfer requirements is essential. It’s essential to regularly review training in response to new guidance, legal changes, emerging threats, and evolving business conditions. This proactive approach ensures employees are not only compliant but well equipped to handle dynamic challenges and complexities of the privacy landscape.
Integrating privacy considerations into business operations and product design can ensure privacy requirements are designed in from the start.
Leveraging technology for compliance
Using advanced software solutions for consent management, data tracking and age verification can streamline compliance processes.
Tailored Strategies and Insights
Collaborate with privacy consultants for tailored strategies and insights for navigating complex privacy landscapes especially in areas like children’s data, direct marketing, cookie compliance and targeted training needs.
As businesses navigate the evolving landscape of data privacy in 2024, it is crucial to prioritise privacy and compliance. Staying informed about new regulations, investing in training, and implementing privacy-by-design principles, will enable business to build trust, mitigate risks, and thrive in the privacy-conscious era.