Companies don't like data privacy laws. It puts them under pressure to be saintly with your personal details. It means the government is watching, or meant to be watching, that companies don't use your details for unsolicited marketing etc. This will probably make you swell with confidence in the State as you sweep 10 or 12 direct marketing letters into the bin.
So you'd think then that the UK's business community would be rolling around with laughter, celebrating the fact that the EU has delayed enforcing the new Data Privacy Act - a far more serious privacy act than the 1994 one - until 15 December. But you'd be wrong, because according to recent research from Security Dynamics, only 15% of them would be laughing. It seems the other 85% of medium and large businesses don't know what's about to happen. These are probably the same companies that think the year 2000 bug is a shot you get before going abroad and the euro is a new chocolate bar from Cadburys. What's worse, 68% of them admitted that they use personal data in direct marketing campaigns, while others rent it out to third parties. How reassuring.
Essentially, the new act means that businesses will not be allowed to trade information online with companies in countries that do not meet the European standards for data privacy. The trade implications are severe.
The act was due to come in a week ago in Europe but the EU and the US still can't agree on the issue. The EU wants US businesses to comply with the Data Privacy Act, but US businesses largely regulate themselves and the US government is reluctant to get involved. Some sources say that even December is hopeful.
Still, it could be postponed for a year and it probably wouldn't even dent the level of ignorance present in the aforementioned 85%. It will probably take some high publicity court cases to open their eyes. The task ahead is to make sure you don't get caught out - and don't expect the IT department to sort you out. It is not just an IT issue.
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