Data-Driven Landscape Increases Pressure on Privacy Concerns
Data privacy has become part of the broad spectrum of information security at many secondary and higher education institutions. However, it is quickly becoming an important 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 that 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
While several institutions do not have a formal privacy program, many of the elements might already be there. Colleges already have staff members responsible for complying with HIPAA and FERPA regulations and managing important, sensitive information that relates to financial aid and student loans.
Then, all that is needed is a program and a full-time position that is meant to merge those pieces into an effort that is more purposeful and cohesive. A privacy program coordinates all of the 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. One is that the data compliance obligations and landscape have exponentially increased, but best 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.
While 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 the best privacy practices while also mitigating any conflicts of interest that may arise 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 for branding for colleges that want to solve problems before presenting themselves. As the process of collecting data becomes more sophisticated, institutions are going to need to determine how much they share.
The need for privacy is more prevalent than ever, and it will only continue to rise in the future. Institutions must address privacy concerns now – even before they arise – to ensure that they are properly compliant and protected.