The Evolving Global Privacy Framework

There are few certainties in 2020 given the global geo-political, social and economic landscape. What in January looked like an already complicated year changed immeasurably as Covid-19 spread around the globe. The global response by nation states to the pandemic, unprecedented in the modern era, brought the privacy of citizens to the fore yet again as governments sought to use smart devices to track the spread of the virus by collecting and processing data about the user’s movements and behavior.

Although using data in this way is beneficial for society, the protection of the personal data of the data subjects must always be held front of mind. Governments should attempt to handle this data in a balanced way that manages both the safety and privacy concerns of their citizens. Furthermore, issues such as transparency cannot be overlooked even in these most challenging circumstances. Questions that need to be considered include what type of personal data is being shared, for what purposes, how aware citizens are of these uses and for how long it will be used.

It is timely to reflect on the impact of the GDPR on the increasing spread and impact of privacy laws globally therefore, as the GDPR reaches its second anniversary with mixed reviews.  Although the GDPR has received most of the headlines, it is crucial for organizations to realize that it is not the only law that impacts data-driven businesses. Further, the increased awareness in the public and the media about privacy as a result of Covid-19 contact tracing measures means that the global privacy framework is likely to become even more complicated. Therefore, as the volume of these laws is ever-increasing, it is difficult for businesses to keep on top of compliance requirements from one market to the next.

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