Understanding Consumer Rights Under Data Privacy Law
Data privacy laws can be complex. A single piece of data legislation often includes many—sometimes dozens—of individual requirements. Understanding what the law requires may be challenging, which makes the task of compliance feel overwhelming.
In this week’s feature of the VENZA Echo, we’ll attempt to simplify the topic by breaking down data privacy laws into their most common components. By thinking about requirements as categories—broad groupings of thematically unified ideas—it becomes apparent that approaching the topic is much more manageable than at first glance.
Let’s dive in.
About Data Privacy Law
Data privacy laws impose a series of requirements that alter the way personal data is collected, processed, and stored.
These mandates ensure that data is handled in a manner that respects individual autonomy and protects against misuse. The purpose of these laws is not to stifle innovation or impede the flow of information but to instill a culture of privacy that aligns with ethical use and societal expectations.
Typically, the requirements embedded within these regulations can be divided into two principal categories. The first category encompasses the rights granted to data subjects – the individuals to whom the data pertains. The second category delineates the obligations placed upon data controllers, the entities that determine the purpose and means of processing personal data.
Understanding Consumer Rights
Many data privacy laws grant consumer additional rights that increase their ability to control how their data is collected or used. Let’s highlight some of the most common and significant rights found within recent legislation.
Opt-out rights for data subjects refer to provisions within data privacy laws that allow individuals to choose not to have their personal data collected, used, or disclosed for certain purposes.
This right is particularly relevant in contexts such as direct marketing, where data subjects have the option to prevent organisations from using their personal data to send them promotional materials.
Opt-out rights can also apply to other data processing activities, such as selling personal data to third parties or sharing it for research purposes.
When data subjects exercise their opt-out rights, the data controller must comply with the request within a reasonable timeframe and cease the specific data processing activities for which the opt-out was requested.
Data privacy laws may mandate that organisations provide clear and straightforward mechanisms for data subjects to exercise their opt-out rights, often requiring that the opt-out option be as accessible and uncomplicated as the process of giving consent.
Data Use and Modification
Use and modification rights are included in many data privacy laws as a means of ensuring that individuals retain control over their personal information.
These provisions—which include rights such as access, correction, and deletion, and more—represent the central avenues through which data subjects can exert sovereignty over their data.
The implementation of these rights marks a shift towards greater transparency and agency for individuals in the management of their personal data.
It underscores the influence of the global movement towards recognizing the significance of personal data as an extension of personal autonomy.
The right of a data subject to obtain from the data controller confirmation as to whether personal data concerning them is being processed, and, where that is the case, access to the personal data and information about its processing.
The right of a data subject to have inaccurate personal data rectified, or completed if it is incomplete.
The right of a data subject to have their personal data erased by the data controller under certain circumstances, such as when the data is no longer necessary for the purpose it was collected or when the data subject withdraws consent. Also known as the “right to be forgotten.”
Objection to Automated Processing
The right to object to decisions made solely on automated processing, including profiling.
The right to transfer personal data from one controller to another in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format.
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