Government Data Privacy


Government data privacy is one of the most important forms of data privacy because there is no question that the government holds some of the most important personal data in existence. In this section, we’re going to discuss the current state of government data privacy, how it impacts businesses and individuals, and the key takeaways that corporations can learn from.

Information Privacy Law

Information privacy laws are self-defining. They are sometimes called data protection laws or data privacy laws and they exist to prevent the misuse of private information and to prohibit the disclosure of sensitive information. There are a number of laws that exist at the state and federal levels in America and all over the world. Earlier in this guide, you learned about the US Privacy Act of 1974; this was the first privacy law to be created.

However, that law and all of the subsequent privacy laws that have been created are informed by what is called the Fair Information Practice guidelines that were published in 1973 by the Department for Health, Education, and Welfare. These guidelines are very basic. They state that data that is collected must have a clear purpose and cannot be shared without consent. They also state that all data should be kept up-to-date and that individuals have a right to access it at any time. This is where the practice of purging data after it has been used originated.

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These guidelines also describe the nature of sensitive data and prohibit its collection unless it is explicitly necessary. Finally, they state that data can’t be transmitted to any entity or location that doesn’t guarantee the same level of protection and privacy.

Since 1974, there have only been eight major privacy laws enacted in the United States. The most comprehensive privacy law is the General Data Privacy Regulation of 2018 which was created in the European Union in 2018.

The Limitations of Government Data Privacy

There have only been three major pieces of legislation that affect the government and their responsibility when it comes to data privacy. Of course, privacy is becoming an increasingly glaring issue as technology continues to expand and the government has faced harsh criticism in regards to how they have handled it to date.

The data that is collected and stored by the government is strictly regulated but they haven’t made any major moves towards comprehensive consumer privacy laws. This leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to individual privacy in the US. The lack of overarching regulations has led to significant problems with large companies like Amazon, Facebook, Google, and more. There are also countless data breaches each year that can permanently impact consumers.

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The Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act was updated in 2018 in Congress, which helps protect information that is collected by the government and helps to keep this information confidential; but, when it comes to consumers, experts across a variety of industries are begging for action.

These problems with consumer protection are likely to be addressed in the coming years. Until then, data privacy is not only the responsibility of the consumer, but also the businesses collecting that data.

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What Can Individual Businesses Learn from The Current State of Government Data Privacy?

The limitations of governmental action when it comes to consumer privacy protections create a unique responsibility for businesses. There are a lot of regulations that are already in place, such as the GDPR (which affects businesses around the world), and the CCPA (which is legislation created in California but also creates obligations for all businesses). However, businesses also need to keep in mind that more legislation may be coming in the future.

On top of that, because there are no clear rules that cover consumer data privacy in the United States, businesses have a responsibility to step up and be transparent with their customers and provide them data protection under their own policies. There is a general mistrust that a majority of Americans feel when it comes to data privacy. In order to maintain strong relationships with consumers, businesses need to establish policies and procedures that can facilitate that trust.

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On the other hand, the government has strong regulations in place when it comes to how they collect, use, and handle all of the personal data that flows through their own channels. Whichever angle you choose to look at government data privacy from, individual corporations stand to gain a lot of insight into how they should approach data privacy.

Firstly, innovative strategies for data protection and strong methods of executing and enforcing those strategies are the key to gaining public trust. Ethical use of data is imperative for several reasons, and the way that a company chooses to determine and limit that use will support ethical practice throughout the entire organization. Finally, people should always be entitled to their data and information regarding how it is handled. This is paramount in maintaining accountability in an enterprise.

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