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Data privacy and data governance are divisive issues in today’s digital age. As a business owner who regularly handles customers’ information, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the data you collect is secure and protected at all times.

As the number of data breaches continues to rise, it’s important for you to understand where your business stands in terms of legal ownership of and responsibility for collected data. This article will be a comprehensive guide on data ownership, data sharing, the rights and obligations associated with it, and how to best manage data access.

What Are Data Ownership Rights?

Data ownership refers to the right to use, manage, and control data. It’s typically legal to possess and control data that is related to you, your business, and your customers.

As a data owner, you have the ability to create, edit, modify, share, and restrict access to certain types of data depending on its nature, origin, and necessary consent.

In the U.S., there are a number of laws pertaining to data privacy and protection. Some are industry-based, like the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) for businesses and organizations in the healthcare industry. Others are general federal laws, such as the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA). The American Data Privacy and Protection Act (ADPPA) is currently still a bill that if passed, would bring significant changes to data management. 

Data ownership also includes the owner’s right to decide the fate of their data, who can access the data, what it’s used for, and how it’s used, as well as the right to deletion and correction.

Fines for Data Privacy Violations

Many federal and state laws are being modeled after the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Many U.S. data privacy laws allow individuals to sue businesses for violating privacy rights, such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). The CCPA allows for a fine of $750 per incident and the Virginia Consumer Data Protection Act (VCDPA) allows fines of $7,500 per incident.

Similarly, the GDPR in Europe allows for up to 4% of a company’s gloal revenue in fines for certain types of data breaches. 

Violation of laws such as HIPAA and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) can also result in sizable fines. It is essential that businesses realize data ownership rights and do their part to protect the privacy of their customers.

Why Does Data Ownership Matter?

Nowadays, even if they aren’t selling a digital product or service, most businesses collect a significant amount of personal information from their customers. This includes a variety of personally identifiable data, ranging from shipping addresses and phone numbers to email addresses and credit card numbers.

As long as the relationship between the customer and the business is standing, the data remains held by the business entity, either for record-keeping purposes or to maintain a subscription or service.

In this scenario, the data ownership still belongs to the customers who provided it. In order to comply with federal and state regulations for managing data, businesses must be fully aware of the data owners’ rights. Failing to do so might subject your business to penalties imposed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), which is responsible for enforcing laws and regulations protecting consumers. Alternatively, individual customers have the right to file a lawsuit against any corporate entity that violates their data rights.

What Are a Data Owner’s Required Rights?

With the various laws and regulations surrounding data ownership in the U.S. — and other parts of the world, in the case of international businesses — it can be challenging to know for sure whether you’re fully compliant. Generally, personal customer data is divided into two categories: identifiable and unidentifiable.

Identifiable data can be used to identify a person. This includes their name, Social Security number, address, phone number, and credit card information. Multiple privacy and security laws forbid companies from keeping, selling, or sharing this kind of data without the owner’s explicit consent.

Public records and employer data are exceptions to this law. Even if it’s identifiable, if the data is collected by an employer or is available in public records such as criminal records, court records, property information, and bankruptcy rulings, it’s governed by its own data laws, which are different from consumer protection regulations.

Unidentifiable data can’t necessarily be used to identify a person, such as their clothing size, their viewing history on a streaming service, or their purchase history. This is also referred to as anonymized data, which isn’t subject to the same restrictions as identifiable data.

A data owner’s right to privacy consists of their ability to demand that their identifiable data be deleted after a transaction has been completed. They also have the right to correct any errors or outdated information and demand that their data elements aren’t shared with third-party entities.

Reduce Data Exposure and Data Harvesting

As an entity in the position of collecting consumer data, it’s your full legal responsibility to ensure the safety and security of that data. Data breaches and leaks that result from subpar security and access control measures could leave your business open to legal repercussions and hefty penalties, which can result in losing millions to even billions of dollars, depending on the degree of the negligence and the violated act.

The best way to reduce the chances of data ownership issues and breaches is to minimize the amount of user data you have on hand. This is especially the case for data that isn’t necessary for providing products or services to your customers.

Data exposure and data harvesting are two of the biggest risks to data security. Data exposure is the unauthorized sharing of data online. Data harvesting is the process of collecting data from multiple sources and then using this data for marketing or other purposes. Both practices can risk the privacy and security of consumers’ data and, therefore, must be avoided or minimized.

One of the best ways to decrease the risk of data exposure is to use a secure, cloud-based system with reliable encryption or tokenization technology. Not only can you control the outer parameters of the system, but you can also track and manage who has access to the data.

You should also disable processes that collect users’ data without consent, which would violate multiple data protection and privacy laws in the U.S.

Protect Your Data Owners’ Rights With Rixon Technology

Rixon Technology is an innovative provider of advanced security and privacy solutions for organizations that hold sensitive data. With cutting-edge vaultless tokenization technology, we ensure that all data collected is guarded according to the latest regulatory laws and rulings.

We offer not only a simple toggle feature to customize access privileges, but also an instant data sovereignty button through our stakeholder feature built native to our solution. This feature gives the data owner control over who can access their PII data. Data owners can give or take away access anywhere in the world in accordance with data privacy laws.

Book a free demo with us today and start your journey toward data privacy compliance.