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US Data Privacy and Data Protection regulations you must know

Data access and data storage are prevalent in the business world — and they carry risk. There is a good reason that data has been called “the new black gold.” As increasingly granular data becomes more easily available, many new ways are emerging to turn that data into solid financial returns. Unfortunately, this also means that those with malicious intent will find new ways to access and abuse that data. And even if data breaches are accidental, they can be costly. Indeed, 2021 had the highest costs yet associated with data breaches: $4.24 million.

That’s where US data privacy laws come in. Understanding and staying informed about US data privacy and data protection laws reduces your liability, protects your business, and ultimately builds trust among consumers when they know you are complying with data privacy laws to protect them.

US Data Privacy Laws

Unlike the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), data privacy laws in the United States differ by state. In addition to complying with those laws, it may bode well for businesses to comply with international regulations, since commerce for even small businesses is no longer necessarily geographically bound.

Before we delve into best practices specific to data protection and privacy policies, here are a few tips to ensure your business is safe:

  • Install security access points
  • Monitor security access points through secure systems
  • Automate access control to gather constant analytics data
  • Leverage the cloud and blockchain technology to safeguard against threats
  • Run cybersecurity assessments

Major State and Federal Data Protection and Data Privacy Policies

US Privacy Act of 1974

In 1974, the US Privacy Act was passed in recognition of growing concern about the possible risks associated with personal data in the possession of the government. In brief, it establishes the following:

  • Citizens’ right of access to personal data held by the US government and the ability to copy such data
  • Citizens’ right to amend or change errors in the personal information 
  • Data minimization principles, allowing only necessary and relevant data to be collected
  • Restriction of access to personal data on a need-to-know basis
  • Restrictions on sharing information between federal and other agencies except in specific circumstances

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, better known as HIPAA, was enacted in 1996. Meant to regulate the US health insurance sector, HIPAA covers many areas and also includes US data privacy regulations. The Security Rule is concerned with data protection; the Privacy Rule deals with data privacy.

HIPAA mandated the creation of national standards to protect confidential patient information. It requires that consent is obtained before such information is disclosed. Its implementation is governed by the US Department of Health and Human Services.

HIPAA Privacy Rule

The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects citizens’ health records and related information that could be used to identify an individual. Health plans, care providers, clearinghouses, and others in the domain that transmit information digitally or electronically come under the purview of the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Specific guidelines govern the access, use, and distribution of this information without the individual’s consent.

HIPAA Violations

Those who transmit or intend to transmit information in the following ways would be in violation of HIPAA:

  • Transmitting records without consent (except under specific circumstances)
  • Providing unauthorized access to health information
  • Examining health records without need and/or proper authorization
  • Making a copy of health records unnecessarily
  • Failing to provide training and awareness to employees

HIPAA Compliance

Most medical professionals and organizations that have access to individually identifiable health information must comply with HIPAA. Companies that handle protected health information need to ensure physical access security, network security measures, and process security implementation. This includes the following (not an exhaustive list):

  • Risk analysis management
    • Administrative safeguards
    • Security management processes
    • Security resources
  • Access management
    • Talent training and management
    • Evaluation
  • Physical safeguards
    • Access and control systems
    • Device security
  • Technical safeguards
    • Access control systems
    • Audit controls
    • Integrity controls
    • Transmission security
  • Implementation specifications
  • Organizational requirements
  • Policies and procedures requirements
  • Compliance with state laws
  • Compliance start date
  • Copies of rules and related materials

Failure to comply with such data privacy regulations in the United States can have serious consequences.

Child Online Privacy Act (COPPA)

The Child Online Privacy Act of 1998 regulates how much information and what kind of information can be collected from users under the age of 13. 

Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act (GLBA)

The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act is also known as the Financial Services Modernization Act of 1999. It aims to safeguard consumer financial data and place restrictions on its usage. While the act is extensive, it has three main foci:

  • To protect all covered information in terms of security and confidentiality
  • To mitigate security threats or hazards associated with that data
  • To prevent unauthorized access to and use of that data

General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – European Union & US

The General Data Protection Regulation is an intricate set of laws that govern privacy standards and data protection in the European Union and its extended Economic Area. As explained on the GDPR website, seven principles govern this piece of legislation:

  • Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency
  • Purpose limitation
  • Data minimization
  • Accuracy
  • Storage limitation
  • Integrity and confidentiality
  • Accountability

So how does the EU law affect the US companies? As business become increasingly global, any data that belongs to residents of the European Union and its extensions is protected by the GDPR—even for companies that are not within the geographical boundaries of the European Union.

However, it is important to note that there is a contradictory act, which essentially overpowers the GDPR within US boundaries. The CLOUD Act states that companies based in the United States are required by federal law to provide access to all the data they store.

Conclusion

What does all this mean for firms that are under the jurisdiction of US privacy laws? It means that businesses must make every effort to remain compliant in order to avoid penalties and prosecution. It also means implementing stricter security and access control measures in and around the workplace as well as mitigating remote access threats. Generally, these efforts are associated with a higher capital expenditure and overhead. Fortunately, with the right solutions and the right access control vendor, this doesn’t have to be the case.

OLOID can help your business upgrade without having to completely revamp it. With OLOID you can retrofit your current solutions to ensure continued, complete compliance. To know more, you can write to us on info@oloid.ai.

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