In today's digital age, businesses collect vast amounts of data on their customers, including their addresses. However, federal laws are yet to be enacted to protect consumers from businesses that misuse or from hackers who abuse personal data.
Consumers looking for protection must, for now, rely on various State legislation and privacy protection laws. Businesses must keep abreast of the multiple laws governing consumer rights and take extra measures to protect consumers' personal information, including address data.
Data privacy has become a critical issue for businesses of all sizes. No company is too small to implement data privacy measures. Small businesses are just as vulnerable to data breaches and privacy violations as larger corporations, and the consequences can be devastating.
A data breach can damage a small business's reputation, lead to financial losses, and even result in legal action.
In a recent webinar, Smarty's Legal Counsel, Gianmarco Rosborough, discussed recent changes in various states' Data Protection Laws and the importance of protecting customer address data with several strategies businesses can use to be compliant with those state laws.
As part of the Webinar, he provides links to firms that have prepared comparison charts of the similarities and differences between state laws. Ultimately, he admonished all businesses to utilize local counsel to help navigate through the complexities of compliance with emerging laws.
Address data is publicly available data, which may not necessarily be "sensitive data" but is still personal data deserving protection. Businesses should obtain consent or have legitimate business purposes for collecting and processing consumers' Personally Identifiable Information (PII).
Businesses needing third parties to process their data should have only the least amount of information needed to perform the requested services. "No names, please," for standardization or cleansing of address data. Businesses should also enter into Data Processing Agreements with service providers to ensure compliance with other relevant laws.
Here's a recap of other key strategies your business can adopt to protect yourself and your customers:
1. Map out your data: The first step in protecting customer address data is to map out where it's stored and how it's accessed. This includes identifying all systems, applications, and databases that store address data and who has access to it.
2. Meet with IT professionals: IT professionals can help businesses identify vulnerabilities in their systems and develop strategies to protect and address data. businesses should work closely with IT professionals to implement industry-standard security measures like intrusion detection systems and data encryption.
3. Minimize your data: businesses should minimize the amount of customer address data they collect and retain. This includes being transparent and developing retention policies that specify why and how long data will be kept and when it’ll be deleted. By minimizing the amount of data they retain, businesses can reduce their risk of data breaches.
4. Invest in cybersecurity and get insurance: businesses should invest in robust cybersecurity measures to protect customer address data. This includes implementing secure data storage and transmission practices, conducting regular security audits, and providing employee training on security best practices. Additionally, businesses should consider obtaining cybersecurity insurance to help mitigate the financial impact of a data breach.
5. Contact your friendly neighborhood attorney: Finally, businesses should consult with legal professionals to ensure they comply with all laws and regulations related to customer address data. Legal professionals can help businesses develop comprehensive privacy policies and data breach response plans and provide guidance on compliance with laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
Protecting consumers' personal data, including address data, is crucial for businesses in today's digital age.
The full webinar recording below lets you learn more about these laws.