Data-Driven Landscape Increases Pressure on Privacy Concerns

Data privacy has become part of the broad spectrum of information security at most secondary and higher education institutions. However, it is quickly becoming an essential area of expertise on its own. It is predicted that privacy will receive more scrutiny within higher education.

As a concept separate from data security, privacy refers to the right that individuals have to maintain the safety of their information from inadvertent disclosure and unauthorized access to third parties. Privacy and security are often discussed as though they were the same concept, but it’s essential to know they are not. 

There can be security without privacy, but privacy cannot exist without security. If institutions do not have proper security in place, they cannot guarantee privacy. 

Strong Principles Should Inform Privacy Programs

Although many institutions do not have a formal privacy program, most elements might already be there. Colleges already have staff members responsible for complying with HIPAA and FERPA regulations and managing essential, sensitive information related to financial aid and learner loans. 

Then, all that is needed is a program and a full-time position meant to merge those pieces into a more purposeful and cohesive effort. A privacy program coordinates all discussions into a focused area, and a dedicated staff member must consider these things each day. 

This person would be called a privacy officer, and they would be responsible for the daily monitoring of training, compliance and enforcement. They would also advocate for the principles for more robust data privacy. 

Increased Demand for Privacy

Many factors contribute to the increase in demand for data privacy. The data compliance obligations and landscape have exponentially increased, but the best of practices have fallen behind.

The landscape now consists of many more areas in which data is a problem. In this landscape, even guidelines as long-standing as FERPA are not, by themselves, enough to offer the protection that users have a right to. 

Although privacy has been considered a “gray area” by colleges for some time, this is no longer an appropriate attitude when ensuring that institutions manage information ethically and legally. A privacy officer can advocate for better practices while mitigating any conflicts of interest from an information security professional attempting to manage privacy. 

Privacy Will Only Become More Important

As time goes on and new technologies are developed, privacy will continue to become more critical. Leaders must be proactive in meeting privacy needs now.

Setting aside compliance requirements, privacy programs are also an opportunity of branding for colleges that want to solve problems before presenting themselves. As the process of collecting data becomes more sophisticated, institutions will need to determine how much they share.

Conclusion

The need for privacy is more prevalent than ever, and it will only continue to rise in the future. To ensure that they are properly compliant and protected, institutions must address privacy concerns now – even before they arise.

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