Internet Law Expands to Reach Growing Data NeedsJuly 9, 2012 No Comments
By Dawn Altnam
While most of us take the Internet for granted, it really only made its way into mainstream personal and commercial use just over two decades ago, in the late 1980s to early 1990s. Even in that short amount of time, there has already been much change and evolution. Technology and the Internet continue to evolve and grow at a sometimes-dizzying pace. We find ourselves adjusting to one innovation only to learn it has been usurped and replaced by something new and even more innovative.
The same can be said for laws pertaining to the Internet and data governance. As technology grew, evolved and seemed to take on a life of its own, a need for new policies emerged. In the early 1990s, very few attorneys existed who specialized in such matters. Nowadays, almost every law firm in the country seems to have privacy and data security attorneys on staff.
As business grows and tries to implement better data storage and usage practices, the law tries to keep up — and vice versa. At times it seems as though the Internet and data-related law is being created on-the-fly. Remember, 30 years ago there was no such thing as Internet law or electronic data privacy and storage concerns. Now these issues are front and center for many businesses, and the need for legal professionals to help businesses navigate these new frontiers is more pressing than ever.
The issue of electronic data is in the forefront — where and how to store it efficiently and securely, how to use it ethically and how to determine who has access to it are primary concerns. There is also growing demand for counsel related to mobile devices, social media and digital advertising. Companies are scrambling to understand (and capitalize upon) the data they are able to collect on consumer spending patterns, Internet usage and demographic changes — but they want to do it in a way that doesn’t have negative consequences.
Some businesses are also navigating issues such as whether or not government agencies have a right to access their data, or what happens to data if a cloud service provider goes out of business abruptly. Businesses seem to continually push the legal limits of what is acceptable in terms of using both public and personal data for marketing their products and services.
While the cloud has been seen as an ideal solution for data storage in many cases, some businesses aren’t so sure. They hesitate to relinquish full control over their data, in many cases because they are mindful of security issues that could come up pertaining to clients and employees as well as their own data and intellectual property.
Some of these businesses are connecting with the hybrid cloud as an artful compromise. With this solution, there is no need to make an “either-or decision.” The hybrid cloud combines cloud computing with in-house servers so that the business can choose to store their most important and sensitive data under their own roof in a more controlled setting than the cloud and Internet can offer. Add to that the ability to create your own adaptive, scaling server solution in-house, and a hybrid model starts to be far more attractive than going in only one direction.
Data privacy and security concerns for businesses continue to rise as regulators, lawyers and even Congress continue to give the issue their attention. Methods of data collection via electronic means as well as retention, usage and its sharing continues to be debated. At the forefront is the debate about usage of data without users’ consent. Regulators are pushing back with aggressive enforcement actions and proposals for strict new laws — and as long as businesses need data governance policies, the need for informed professional counsel will be there.
About the author: Dawn Altnam lives and works in the midwest, and she enjoys following the business tech world. After furthering her education, she has spent some time researching her interests and blogging of her discoveries often. Follow her on Twitter! @DawnAltnamDATA and ANALYTICS , Fresh Ink, Inside the Briefcase