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2020: The Year of Privacy

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Sarah Nicholas

As we ease into a new decade, it’s hard to forget that data is the currency of our digital age. In fact, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that roughly six in ten Americans believe it is not possible to go through daily life without their data being collected. Our PII – personally identifiable information - is worth billions both to the companies who want it and to those who broker it. What does this mean for privacy?

We’ve entered a new era in data privacy. While most of us are willing to sacrifice privacy for the sake of convenience, whether it’s to install a content streaming app or a game on our smartphones, there’s a growing awareness about the risks we take when we give access to our data too freely. In the same Pew poll, 79% of Americans also reported being concerned about the way companies are using their data. 

As with most technology advancements, innovation has moved faster than the laws governing them. Europe is leading the way with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and California is pioneering US consumer data protection with the California Consumer Privacy Act (which went into effect January 1, 2020), but universal regulations are likely years away. In the meantime, what does this mean for you? How can you keep your data secure?

  1. Understand the value of your personal data, why companies want it, and how they use it. You don’t have to be fearful or take irrational steps. Just stay informed and vigilant. Educate yourself and decide who you’re comfortable giving access to your data.
  2. Become your own data privacy advocate. Learn your rights and how to protect them. This guide from the site My Radvocate offers a great overview of everything you need to know about data privacy.  
  3. Review and change your privacy settings on all your devices, the apps you use, and the sites you visit (especially social media platforms) regularly. The National Cyber Security Alliance, who runs Data Privacy Day, offers this great list to help you find privacy information for the most common tech companies.
  4. Only do business with organizations who take your privacy seriously and are transparent about how they collect your data and what they do with it once they have it.

Some companies, like Apple, have taken strong stands to protect our privacy, even going up against the FBI and introducing new features like intelligent tracking prevention, fingerprinting, and private browsing, aimed at putting our privacy first.

David Haley, Ameris Bank’s chief information security officer, states “The protection and safeguarding of consumers’ personally identifiable information (PII) remains a stringent focus, especially in the financial services sector. Banks have had requirements since 2000 under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA) to protect the privacy of consumers; however, other industries haven’t kept pace with these standards. As a result, we all as consumers must understand the value of our personal data and remain aware of how to maintain our privacy.”

As we mark Data Privacy Day on January 28, remember that you don’t have to wait for laws to catch up to keep your data secure. You can be your own privacy advocate! Explore our many other helpful cybersecurity resources. Follow us on Twitter for additional cybersecurity tips. 


Written by: Sarah Nicholas 

Sarah is the Director of Communications for Serendipity Communications. She lives in Plainwell, Michigan with her husband, daughters and stepson, with twin stepdaughters nearby. She is passionate about cyber safety education for children and enjoys ballet dancing, reading and volunteering at her children’s school. 

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Ameris Bank is not affiliated with nor endorses any of the companies featured in this article.