In an era when some of the largest corporations in the world have failed to properly secure the personal data of billions of people, lawmakers have become keen to push legislation aimed at giving consumers greater control over their personal data.
With so much consumer data floating around in company databases and the cloud, it is becoming increasingly important to ensure the data is secured, kept private, and out of the hands of hackers and cybercriminals.
To date, the most significant pieces of data privacy legislation are the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and the impending California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) which give consumers in the EU and California, respectively, a set of specific rights to govern the collection and processing of their data, while holding companies accountable by levying significant fines on those that fail to properly protect the consumer data they collect.
Other states in the US along with other countries around the globe have taken notice and have also begun introducing their own variations of data privacy legislation. The rate at which this has been happening is however not quite uniform and varies greatly from country to country.
Ecuador is one such country that has been sluggish in adopting legislative measures to protect the digital privacy of its citizens.
In 2008, the country passed a resolution declaring a right to data privacy, and in the summer of 2016, government officials announced a proposal to introduce a bill on the “Protection and Privacy of Personal Data” to address the lack of proper data protection initiatives in Ecuador. Since then, no real action has taken place to give consumers in Ecuador appropriate data protection rights.
Why Ecuador needs better data protection laws
The lack of proper data protection laws in the country was certainly a significant contributor to the recent massive data leak that exposed the personal information of nearly every single Ecuadorian citizen.
Due to a misconfigured database on an unsecured cloud server run by a small and largely unknown Ecuadorian data analytics firm, full names, email addresses, physical addresses, state identification numbers, employment information, salary figures, marital and family status, automobile registration information, and much more was fully exposed online and accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
It doesn’t take much of an imagination to comprehend digital and physical security risks this poses to Ecuadorians.
In response to the largest data leak in the country’s history, the Ecuadorian government has pledged to fast-track the proposed data privacy legislation.
While this is welcome news, it should be careful not to rush and implement a half-baked solution that ends up failing to accomplish proper privacy protections for its citizens. Hurried, reactive legislation is bound to be imperfect and lead to more confusion than resolution for all parties involved.
Instead, Ecuadorian officials should take the time to draft legislation that truly has the capacity to protect the data privacy of its citizens in an appropriate manner.
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The GDPR underwent several years of development and polishing prior to being put into practice, and that legislation is still by no means perfect. Though with laws like the GDPR and CCPA as a framework to follow, it shouldn’t take years for Ecuadorians to enjoy data privacy rights, lawmakers should still be careful not to haphazardly and hastily patch together a set of inadequate privacy measures.
In the meantime, it should be up to organizations in the country to properly invest in and take consumer privacy seriously. Companies should also sufficiently vet any third-party vendors and suppliers they work with to ensure they are doing the same.