Data rights - is your business compliant?

Data is now regarded as more valuable than oil [1], making it one of the most sought-after resources in the world. With the legislation and laws around importing, exporting and processing oil, it’s only fitting that our data laws have the same due-diligence.

Data rights have been a hot topic in law for several years now. One of the first pieces of legislation in the area, the Data Protection Act 1998, ensured the regulation of processing information relating to individuals, designed to protect personal data stored on computers or in paper filling systems.

As a result of rapid developments in technology, this Act has now been superseded by the Data Protection Act 2018, which updates and strengthens the existing regulations on personal data.

Dovetailing the 2018 Act is the General Data Protection Regulation (‘GDPR’), a European Union Regulation which came into force in May 2018 and which has already received heavy publicity in light of the enhanced rights it provides individuals plus the extent of the penalties which companies can receive in the event of a breach of the GDPR.

What are data rights?

In the UK, GDPR provides the following rights to all individuals:
• The right to be informed
• The right of access
• The right to rectification
• The right to erasure
• The right to restrict processing
• The right to data portability
• The right to object
• Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling

Under GDPR, your clients have the right to be informed about the collection and use of their personal data, (they have the right to know what information a business holds on them and how they intend to use that data).

They also have the right to access their personal data. Many businesses will have a CRM system that will store personal data for processing, clients have the right to request a copy of all personal data held by a business, and request they amend or remove their data.

Companies that breach the GDPR can face a penalty of up to 20m Euros or 4% of worldwide turnover, whichever is higher.

Data rights in the headlines

Some journalists argue that the organisation known as Cambridge Analytica violated personal data rights when they purportedly aggregated data from millions of Facebook profiles without explicit consent from users.

Cambridge Analytica are alleged to have used this data to generate highly targeted social media campaigns, which have been claimed to have influenced people’s political voting habits. This is reported to have impacted the 2016 American election and several other political elections and referenda around the world, including Brexit.

Facebook received a record fine of $5bn for ‘deceiving’ users about their ability to keep personal information private. The social network must also establish an independent privary committee that Facebook’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg will not have control over[2]. The fine is the largest regulatory penalty ever imposed by the US government on any company. This is also following a £500,000 fine by the UK’s data protection watchdog for its role in the allegations against Cambridge Analytica in October.

Netflix has released a documentary named ‘The Great Hack’, which outlined the scale of the breach and the potential impact social media advertising has had on global politics.

Unsure about data rights?

With the increased awareness of data rights, social media and targeted advertising, consumers are sensitive of their personal data. If you’d like to talk to one of our specialists about how to ensure your business is operating in compliance with data protection laws, please contact Verisona Law today.

This article and the references in it should not be taken as legal advice and you should seek the advice of a solicitor if you are concerned about your business’s data policies.


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