Data Privacy Needs to Get Real

Data privacy seems to be one of those issues that receives a lot more lip service than action. For example, a recent YouGov survey showed that 80 percent of Democrats, 75 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of independents opposed the bill recently signed by President Trump, which allows ISPs to sell browsing data and other private information to third parties—without consent from customers.

Simply put, at a time when political polarization has reached epic and previously unknown levels—and when people and parties can’t agree on much of anything—just about everyone agrees on the need for far better privacy protections.

There’s plenty of data to back up this sentiment. An April 2017 Accenture survey found that most U.S. citizens are in favor of strengthened cyber-defense mechanisms to protect their personal data. Overall, 79 percent said they are concerned about the privacy and security of their personal digital data, and 63 percent admitted that they would feel more confident if the government agencies and service providers with which they interact had stronger data privacy and security policies.

There’s a message here: Businesses and government must stop treating data privacy and security protections as an afterthought. Accenture found that 66 percent of the survey respondents would be willing to sacrifice convenience for increased data security. In addition, 60 percent support additional login questions, and 47 percent support the use of biometric technologies to verify identity and secure access.

What’s more, these citizens expressed support for new security services to enhance data privacy and security protections. Respondents recognized the value of a secure digital identity (85 percent), the use of regular security assessments (82 percent) and the need for new cyber-defense services (85 percent).

Over the past few years, the business world has taken the lead on issues ranging from sustainability and renewable energy to social equality. In many respects, responsible business leadership is more powerful than any government rule or regulation. Since any progress isn’t likely to come out of Washington, it’s now up to states and the business world to establish a viable framework for data privacy and cyber-security.

The bottom line is simple: A lack of faith in the system doesn’t do anyone any good. Reaping short-term benefits at the expense of long-term gains is never a good idea.