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Can Laws Protect Us?

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Can Laws Protect Us?

There are many ‘Privacy Laws’ to protect our privacy. Are these enough? Privacy laws are built after privacy violations and after some of these online companies have made a lot of money abusing your private and sensitive personal information. The more they know about you, the more money they can make. Regulating human greed of making money through laws is a race where laws are always found to be the one catching-up. Ultimately businesses serve and make money. If they are ever penalized for violations, it is only a monetary penalty, which in the business world is termed as “Cost of doing business”. For e.g.: BP paid $4.5B in federal fines for dumping 205 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico for the biggest environmental disaster in the history of America. The Federal Trade Commission formally announced its $5 billion settlement with Facebook on Wednesday morning, which is the culmination of a years-long investigation into the Cambridge Analytica scandal and other privacy breaches. Google was fined $1.4M in Italy for street view capturing car violations. While this is a step in the right direction, these do not solve the underlying issue that individuals like us face every day due to privacy violations.

In my opinion, many of the data protection Laws and Bills are a step in the right direction and is a much required legal framework to govern privacy. Unfortunately, these laws are so broad in its definitions that nothing has changed for these data gathering and mining companies except that they are now rather ‘cautious’ in their data abuse.

What are my Legal Right to Privacy?

The Right to privacy refers to the concept that one’s personal information is protected from public scrutiny. U.S. Justice Louis Brandeis called it “the right to be left alone.” While not explicitly stated in the U.S. Constitution, some amendments provide some protections.

  • The right to privacy most often is protected by statutory law. For example, the Health Information Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects a person's health information, and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) enforces the right to privacy in various privacy policies and privacy statements.
  • The Fourth Amendment of US constitution protects privacy against unreasonable searches.
  • Children’s Information is protected at the federal level under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which prohibits the online collection of any information from a child under the age of 13, and requires publication of privacy notices and collection of verifiable parental consent when information from children is being collected.
  • Video Privacy Protection Act (VPPA) was enacted to protect wrongful disclosure of videotape, including Online Streaming.
  • States have enacted Discreet Laws pertaining to surveillance, including cellular location tracking , drone photography , even smart TV “snooping” features.
  • The California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) is a US law out of California that regulates what is included in the Privacy Policies of commercial websites and other online services. CalOPPA applies to any business that collects personal information from any residents of California.
  • The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a robust privacy law that was created by the European Union (EU) in 2016 and became effective in 2018. The purpose of the GDPR is to update digital security for the citizens of the EU by giving them a higher level of control on the personal information they share online.
  • Government of India enacted The Personal Data Protection Bill, 2019 in India to govern data privacy.