2021 brought on many challenges never faced before for employers, most of which surrounded the central issue of working from home. Employers struggled to keep employees focused with all the distractions of being at home, technology connectivity issues, and making sure employees could still stay connected on a personal level with co-workers. While we may finally be shifting slightly away from the work from home space, 2022 will bring on a whole new variety of employment compliance issues that companies will need to tackle. Now that employees are coming back to the office, the focus will be shifted from managing work from home experiences to minimum wage increases, discrimination protections, and marijuana legalizations just to name a few.
Despite the technology and data collection sectors rapidly growing over the past few decades, laws protecting consumers in these spaces have barely expanded, if at all. The first, and only, comprehensive federal data privacy regulation was passed in 1974, roughly ten years before the first Mac computer was invented. Since then, we’ve seen a few more federal laws put in place to protect consumer data and even some states take actions into their own hands, but we have yet to see another comprehensive law from the federal government. This begs the question, will the federal government finally enact new data privacy laws for the country as a whole to adhere to, or will they continue to let states take the reins forcing companies to comply with multiple laws at once?
When you think of the most valuable commodity in the world today, you might automatically think of money, however, personal data has now become one of the most valuable forms of currency today. The vast amounts of personal data available have made it increasingly valuable to companies who know how to use it to their advantage. The means of receiving this data are sometimes questionable, and up until recently, often unregulated, leading to companies using unethical methods to get their hands on this valuable data. The US is starting to follow the rest of the world and develop extensive data privacy laws that cover more than just medical information to ensure that consumers are protected, but there’s still lots of disagreements surrounding how and what should be protected in the US.
For the past few weeks, world leaders have been discussing climate action and how to tackle the growing problem at COP26. They recently reached an agreement that pushes countries to strengthen climate targets that can be achieved in the near future and limit fossil fuel use, but they are still facing criticism from scientists who say it is not enough. While they did come up with language urging countries to move away from fossil fuels, there are few concrete goals written leaving it largely up to the countries themselves to decide how to meet those goals.
Remote work was something once looked at as a gift, a day to work at home in your sweatpants on your couch. But now, some are stuck working from home until further notice or maybe even until they retire. This new method of work has made it much harder for businesses to keep the information of their workers and customers safe despite additional avenues of technology being used to work from home. An average employee may never think about the challenges associated with data security, but it is important to shed some light on this subject so that more people understand its importance. It is also important to understand why the lack of data security laws in the US could be so detrimental to any company doing work here. Company and consumer information is more vulnerable than ever with people working from home all over the country and without comprehensive data security regulations in the US, there is no end in sight.
While the United States does have some federal data privacy regulations in place, the most comprehensive regulations exist at the state level with a degree of variation of protection from state to state. Recently, more conversations are being had about whether the United States should implement more federal data privacy laws. Proponents say they would likely use something equivalent to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which focuses on regulating consumer data privacy and protecting consumers from data breaches. This is especially significant because states are taking matters into their own hands by passing state data privacy regulations that all vary slightly, which could become confusing for companies trying to be compliant with more than one.