How Will the Uptake of Digital Services Due to Covid-19 Impact Online Privacy?

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2 min Read   |  Published: Wed Sep 9 2020
2020 started in the most unusual and unexpected circumstances. Covid-19 has seen countries around the globe introduce social distancing, self-isolation, and lockdowns on an unprecedented scale. Naturally, these measures have led to huge numbers of people turning to online tools and digital services to not only support working-from-home, but to also keep them entertained: services like Zoom and Houseparty have seen material uptakes, with increasing numbers turning to digital events such as exercise classes, music streaming and online conferences. Netflix and YouTube both reduced streaming quality in a bid to ensure that networks aren’t overloaded under this increased demand. However, the main question we want to consider here is, how will this huge uptake in digital services impact data privacy?
How Will the Uptake of Digital Services Due to Covid-19 Impact Online Privacy?

2020 started in the most unusual and unexpected circumstances. Covid-19 has seen countries around the globe introduce social distancing, self-isolation, and lockdowns on an unprecedented scale. Naturally, these measures have led to huge numbers of people turning to online tools and digital services to not only support working-from-home, but to also keep them entertained: services like Zoom and Houseparty have seen material uptakes, with increasing numbers turning to digital events such as exercise classes, music streaming and online conferences. Netflix and YouTube both reduced streaming quality in a bid to ensure that networks aren’t overloaded under this increased demand. However, the main question we want to consider here is, how will this huge uptake in digital services impact data privacy?

Industries like Telecommunications, Digital Entertainment, E-commerce and other online and digital services have always been known to process vast amounts of data. The recent uptake in usage requires businesses to both cope with the increased demand to fulfil these services, and ensure the privacy of new and existing users. We have also seen a spike in Coronavirus-related cyber-attacks; as ever-increasing amounts of data move through the digital ecosystem, businesses further become prime targets for online attacks.

The second challenge surrounds how businesses can use that data, and more importantly, manage this data processing in a way that is compliant with both local and extra-territorial privacy regulations. Many businesses already struggle to build a complete picture of exactly what types of data are processed - what are the purposes of processing, when was such data collected, how long it can be used from a consent, regulatory and compliance perspective. This lack of understanding surrounding the Consent & Permissions that underpin an ever-increasing trove of data could pose huge problems when trying to meet Global Privacy Regulations.

Although parts of these businesses will be under immense pressure to fulfil their obligations, it is also an opportunity to step back and reassess. Areas of the business that aren’t focused on meeting customer requirements have a rare opportunity to research and review how they tackle the challenge of privacy, and to make the necessary changes that can both differentiate and protect their business.

Irrespective of Covid-19, the right to privacy, and the importance and responsibility required when protecting these rights, do not disappear. Businesses able to cement privacy-by-design practices at the heart of what they do will make the most of an opportunity to grow trust with their customer-base and build excellent, long-term customer experiences and relationships during a trying time.

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