Thanks to the introduction of the EU’s GDPR legislation, the issue of data protection and privacy was big news in 2018. As we enter a new year, that trend shows no sign of changing. As other governments around the world – notably in the US – follow the EU in establishing their own data legislation, we can expect to see greater emphasis across the board on protecting personal information. This doesn’t only affect how information is secured but also where it’s stored and who has control over it.
Of course, new legislation doesn’t mean that privacy issues and data breaches are going to go away, but it does serve to raise their profile with the general public. In the UK there have already been a jump in the number of incidents reported to the ICO since the GDPR legislation came into force. 
As consumers become more aware of the issues, businesses are going to be more mindful of the fact that a major breach – which they must now disclose – could do serious harm to their reputation. This means that if they don’t want to lose out to their competitors they not only have to take data protection seriously but also demonstrate that they are doing so.
This may lead many to hand more control to the customer. Allowing people to determine their own privacy settings and deciding which information they want to share will drive engagement and confidence. We’ve already seen major players such as Facebook going down this path. Making it easier for customers to control the level of marketing communication or to request what data is being held about them is also likely to become the norm.
Handling of data
These concerns will also drive the way in which businesses look after their data and where they store it. In particular, the emphasis here will be on the cloud. While adoption of the technology is unlikely to slow down, companies will be less likely to want to trust sensitive information to public cloud services. In certain highly regulated industries including finance and healthcare, for example, there are already compliance restrictions governing where data can be located. 
This will mean moves towards private or hybrid cloud systems rather than relying on public service providers. It may even in some cases mean the complete repatriation of data to in-house servers in the quest for more control over it. Other factors including availability and performance may also drive moves to restructure the way in which sensitive data is stored and handled.
While the focus tends to be on larger organisations, of course, this legislation affects smaller companies too. This will mean many enterprises needing to take their cybersecurity and privacy arrangements more seriously. That will mandate recruiting more talent or turning to third-parties to provide additional support.
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