IS US DATA PRIVACY CATCHING UP WITH THE GDPR?
New privacy laws are ushering in a new era of US data privacy
23 January 2023
The EU’s GDPR has long stood as the gold standard for data privacy protection, and the United States’ federal answer has been long-anticipated.
Outside of California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), though, shifts to data protection haven’t materialized in the country – that is until recently, where a wave of privacy laws are ushering in a new era of data privacy for the country.
Let’s take a deep dive into the new US data privacy laws and what they mean for US citizens and businesses.
THE DATA PRIVACY WAVE
Four US states will follow in California’s footsteps and protect user data privacy in 2023: Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia.
These four states are joining California and going against the grain of the United States’ federal approach to data privacy, which has typically been to protect only select parts of citizen data: Financial, health, and educational data are protected under various laws and regulations, for example, while other data – like location or names – is considered fair game for corporations to collect without consent.
That’s putting the five states more in-line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The EU treats privacy as a fundamental human right, periodically dealing heavy blows to whoever’s irresponsible enough to encroach – most recently at the time of writing, Meta has been hit with fines in the hundreds of millions. If you’d like to read more about how the EU takes on the largest tech corporations, check out writeup on the Digital Markets Act!
There’s no going back from here – expect more states to follow in these footsteps, and for data privacy to become a federal-level talking point in a major way.
TIME FOR A FEDERAL APPROACH?
The five states have largely modeled their legislation around the GDPR: In every state apart from Virginia, the right to access, correct, and delete personal data has been enshrined.
In Virginia, the right to delete comes with an exception for personal data that was collected from somewhere other than the consumer – an exception that might prove confusing for citizens trying to exercise their newly-enshrined rights.
That shines a light on a weakness of the five states’ fragmented approaches: Potential confusion for businesses about what their procedures should be across separate states.
Though the right-to-delete is the most stark difference, the separate states have multiple significant exceptions, caveats, and requirements in their individual legislatures.
Compare that to the GDPR, which is a far more consistent blanket protection across the entire European Union. No country within the EU is able to reinterpret or bend the clearly laid-out laws and international businesses do not have to change their practices based on the EU country they’re operating with.
A federal approach to enshrining data privacy in the US would prevent confusion for businesses working with user data across states, and could also help protect citizens’ right to privacy with clear, country-wide guidelines that are easily understood and not able to be weakened by individual states.
DATA PRIVACY’S IMPACT ON DIGITAL ADVERTISING
One of the largest roadblocks that heightened data privacy laws provide for digital advertising is a need for clarity of what can and cannot be done. Marketers affected by new laws should be absolutely clear on which of their practices can stay the same and which need to be changed, and where practices need to be changed, how that should happen.
If citizens are newly able to opt-out of their data being used, for example, that needs to be easily accessible to the average citizen. Responses to requests for information access, correction, or deletion need to be automated.
Furthermore, alternative solutions to digital advertising that are no longer viable need to be utilized. Contextual targeting sidesteps the need for personal user data: Rather than providing advertising relevant to what’s known about users, ads are relevant to the page they’re displayed on instead. Its more advanced, AI-powered version, semantic targeting, provides more accurate analyses than ever achieved before with contextual targeting.
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