How has the government protected the right to privacy?

Internet safety is an ongoing concern for many individuals and companies worldwide with online predators becoming more prevalent in digital spaces. In recent years, child advocacy experts and law enforcement officials have started focusing on online platforms, like social media websites and smart phone apps, to stop crimes against children.

Today’s perpetrators are becoming increasingly deceptive in their practices. Many of them will start by grooming their victims into believing that they’re a trusted friend while engaging in conversations that are meant to make children feel cared for and accepted.

The most vulnerable to these techniques are young individuals who are depressed and considered to be at-risk. Online predators will often ask children about their personal information, so they can attempt to contact them physically.

For parents, it’s imperative to keep an eye on who is following their kids on their chosen social network. Reporting people who are suspected of posing as a child can go a long way toward staying safe online and preventing a family member from being tricked.

The good news is that many tech companies are working to help resolve child exploitation cases by collaborating with law enforcement agencies. This is primarily because none of these brands would want to get a bad reputation for being known as having a platform where kids can be abused.

In recent years, government agencies have enforced privacy laws in the past years to help protect consumer data and prevent personal data from being stolen.

Let’s go through the main initiatives lawmakers and companies have pursued and implemented to help stop online predators from victimizing unsuspecting citizens.

 

Lawmakers and Privacy Laws in the United States

Europe has the world’s most comprehensive privacy law thanks to its General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This law requires businesses to ask permission before sharing user data and provides individuals  with a fundamental right to privacy, which allows them to access, remove, or take control of their personal information.

However, the United States lacks a singular law that provides full coverage of data privacy. Instead, it has data privacy laws that are designed to cover specific data types.

These include:

  • The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA): The GLBA is a law that requires consumer financial products like investment advice and loan services to explain to customers how they plan to share their data. They also provide people with a way to opt-out in case they aren’t satisfied with the way professional services firms handle their data collection practices.

  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): HIPAA is a law that limits covered entities within the health sector, such as hospitals, pharmacies, doctors, and insurers, in how they disclose patient health information over certain communication channels. However, It’s important to note that this law doesn’t cover patient health information.

  • The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA): This law prevents government agencies from performing wiretaps on phone calls including other electronic signals. It also contains rules designed to stop employers from monitoring the communication channels of their employees.

  • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA): Also called the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule, COPPA is a law that sets specific requirements on website operators and online services that cater to children under the age of 13. Some of the key requirements of COPPA include providing notice and parental consent before gathering sensitive information from children, and posting a clear privacy policy notice on websites regarding how they handle children's data.

  • The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA): This law provides in-depth details on who can request records concerning student education. It takes into account who has the right to inspect these education records that are maintained by a school.

Increasingly, the states themselves have enacted their own privacy legislation. However, there are currently only three states in the nation that have started implementing comprehensive consumer privacy laws. These are the CCPA and CPRA for California, VCDPA for Virginia, and ColoPA for Colorado. The private right of action that these data privacy laws provide are only applicable to people living in these states.

Companies and Data Privacy

As mentioned earlier, companies today are also addressing concerns about identity theft, online predators, and data security. Some examples include:

  • Customer-centric practices: Companies today have started developing consumer-facing practices in their apps such as strong password requirements and automatic timed logouts for added security. They are also being more transparent in communicating why, when, and how they collect user data.

  • Data mapping: Leading brands have begun creating data maps to categorize the datasets they gather from their customers. These companies mitigate risks when they only collect personal information that they need while implementing different storage policies, according to how they plan to use consumer data.

  • Identity and access management: A growing number of organizations have started developing identity and access management practices that suit an individual’s role. This is designed to increase data security, especially since many data breaches in recent years have been caused by insider threats.

  • Compliance investments: Many companies have started investing huge amounts of money to make sure that they are compliant with all the new regulations. They have also started finding ways to identify consumer data and allow customers to modify or delete their personal data as needed.

  • Improving existing infrastructure: Organizations nowadays are creating new infrastructure environments that can take on the growing volumes of data they are gathering. Meanwhile, leveraging a smaller system footprint -- simplifying their privacy practices -- is seen as an ideal practice for preventing data breaches.

Conclusion

Lawmakers and companies these days are beginning to prioritize the importance of data privacy, especially for children. However, it’s also up to the parents to adapt to the changes in technology to help prevent child exploitation.

There are countless individuals that children can engage with using their computers and mobile phones. Parents should be knowledgeable at all times about who these people are and how they are contacting their kids to stop potential abuse.

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