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If there’s one topic that’s almost certain to dominate conversations about the digital media space in 2020, it’s data privacy. In the past, this might not have been the sexiest of topics, but 2019 was such a scandal-plagued year for companies like Facebook and Google that “data privacy” is now a buzzword both in Silicon Valley and in Washington, D.C. With that in mind, here’s what you need to know about data privacy in 2020…
Expect more data breaches and more stories about cybersecurity
By now, the question is not “if” but “when” the next big data breach is going to take place. Hackers and cybercriminals are still targeting financial institutions and healthcare organizations (both rich sources of data that can be exploited for financial gain), of course, but they are also widening their net to include public sector entities. In fact, the hacking technique of choice is now a version of cyber extortion, in which hackers threaten to erase or delete public databases unless their demands are met.
Look for a confusing alphabet soup of new data privacy regulations
The one big buzzword in 2020 will be “CCPA” – that’s shorthand for the California Consumer Privacy Act, and it’s the single most important piece of regulation right now in the data privacy world. It’s almost certain to become the template for other states to follow, and as a confusing quilt of overlapping regulations go into effect in states across America, big Silicon Valley giants are almost certain to beg the federal government for some form of relief. (Not directly, of course, but via their tech lobbying associations, which are trying to enact a new, watered-down federal privacy law in Washington).
Discussions about paying customers for their data
Thanks to regulations such as the CCPA, customers are going to start locking up their data and making it a lot harder for companies to trade, swap or use it for their own commercial purposes. As a result, companies might have to sweeten the incentives for customers – even going so far as paying customers for their data. At the very least, we might start to hear more talk about “differential privacy,” and what types of extra features or pricing you might be able to unlock from a company by not turning off your privacy settings.
More branding and marketing around privacy
For now, Apple is perhaps the most visible company when it comes to branding and marketing around privacy. Just check out any of Apple’s new iPhone ads – they make it a point to showcase why Apple phones are a lot better for your personal privacy than other smartphones on the market today. (Yes, Google, Apple is talking about you!) Microsoft, too, is starting to position itself as a “privacy first” type of company, and it’s likely other tech companies will look for anyway to differentiate themselves from the crowd. This could be a big winner in the Internet of Things space, where companies like Amazon are struggling to re-shape the public narrative around tech must-have products like the Nest video doorbell or the Amazon Echo smart assistant..
And, of course, the fact that online privacy is going to be front-and-center in 2020 means that you’re almost certainly going to be overwhelmed with articles in the media about how to protect your digital privacy (“never reuse passwords!” “use multi-factor authentication”). It’s time for individuals to take control of their online privacy. In fact, if you haven’t yet completed your New Year’s resolutions, this might be a fine addition to your list for 2020!