Global Data Protection
While working for a business, you knowingly and unknowingly give them access to some crucial pieces of information, such as your social security number.
Similarly, if you have ever sent a personal e-mail through the system, chances are they have a digital record.
In a world caught up in one of the biggest fights to define privacy versus public knowledge, there are not as many clear lines as you would hope.
Rules differ from country to country and even business to business on a global level, leaving you caught in the middle.
Unlike the UK’s Data Protection Act that is an all-encompassing law with clearly defined rules, the US has more of a patchwork with different cities, states and some federal rules mixed together to provide some form to data protection.
Most companies come with their own set of rules and regulations put up as a “better business practice” and usually listed publicly. Whether they follow these rules is subject to debate as companies have the right to alter their conditions at any time, but as an employee, this does give you a certain amount of leverage.
Even without such heavy regulation, there are certain protections that are expected of every business.
No personal information can ever be shared with another party unless the subject of the information provides written consent.
Even before agreeing, the subject is informed as to why their data is being asked for.
Also, data beyond employment paperwork that is to be collected can only be done so for an explicit, specified and legitimate purpose. Any employee is allowed to deny giving anyone their information. Furthermore, any personal data stored is held under a high level of security so only those with proper clearance can access it, like you as a HR professional.
Aside from this, as an employee you hold specific rights and privileges over your data protected by most governments.
You can demand information about your own data being held by the company at any time.
If a piece of information is incorrect, you are allowed to update it (depending region and country in the world).
You also have the right to object to any illegal means of data usage, such as for marketing or advertising.
Finally, if you provide significant reasons as to why any of your data previously released is not permissible, the company must delete it.
While a world of open communication across companies and businesses is a wonderful step toward a unified tomorrow, you must always be wary of just what privileges you hold in regard to your information.
Companies are not allowed to simply hand out what you give them in confidence, and if you feel your data is not properly secured, take action.
The best place to start is with you in the people operations team, as you know (or should!!) the intricacies of your company’s protection laws can help resolve any disputes.
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