Social media sites know more about you than your closest friends. Your phone is tracking your every movement. The food delivery app on your mobile knows more about your diet than your doctor. Sometimes it feels as if the possibility of privacy is moving ever further away.
January 28th is Data Privacy Day. It would feel very wrong to wish you a Happy Data Privacy Day. In just the past few years we have experienced some of the most egregious private data leaks. For example, in 2017 Yahoo revealed that the names, dates of birth, email addresses and passwords of 3 billion user accounts had been compromised.
Most of us agree that we would prefer to have our private details stay, well, private. However, short of deleting every social media account and throwing our mobile phone off a bridge what can we do? Most of us enjoy the convenience of modern technology too much to give it up, despite our unease about the amount of personal data which is harvested from us.
Never fear, it may not be time to shun modern technology and move to a desert island just yet. But, if you care about your private data then it might be worth considering a move to one of the countries which takes the data privacy of its citizens seriously.
Where in the World Has the Best Data Privacy Regulations?
The EU made headlines last year when it implemented its GDPR regulation. This regulation on data protection and privacy requires companies to protect the personal data and privacy of all residents within the European Union and the European Economic Area.
The GDPR applies to any organization (regardless of where it is located) that offers goods or services to, or monitors the behavior of, people living within the EU. If they are not compliant with the GDPR a company can face fines of up to 4% of annual global turnover or €20 million.
The GDPR ensures that the 500 million residents of the EU have the right to request the data that a company has collected about them. They also have the “right to be forgotten” and companies are only able to collect data if there’s a specific business purpose for it.
Europe is a Good Region for Data Privacy
In general, Europe is a good place to be if you care about your data privacy. However, there are some countries in the region that have even better data regulations. Iceland (part of the EEA) and Switzerland (not part of the EU or EEA but it is a member of EFTA – the European Free Trade Association) spring to mind.
Data privacy is enshrined in Switzerland’s Federal Act on Data Protection of 19 June 1992. This act introduced a strict protection of privacy by prohibiting virtually any processing of personal data which is not expressly authorized by the data subjects. Also, any person can ask a company to correct or delete any personal data. The company must respond within thirty days.
All in all Switzerland is a pretty secure place to store your data. Some research puts Switzerland at the number one spot for data security, with a risk score of only 1.6%.
Iceland – Famous for Volcanoes, Bjork and … Data Privacy?
Iceland is also a good country for data privacy. It has no agreements with the United States, or other governments, to give access to its citizens’ data. It is also known for not being easily swayed by foreign powers into bowing to their requests to release citizens data. Iceland’s data risk score is a low 2.3%.
The country has also introduced an “Icelandic Modern Media Initiative” (IMMI). This is a set of thirteen separate pieces of media-related legislation. The legislation aims to protect individuals by completely prohibiting disclosure requests by foreign governments or law enforcement organizations.
Pros and Cons of Singapore’s Security Policies
With a data risk score of 1.9% Singapore scores pretty highly according to some metrics. However, being outside the area covered by the GDPR regulations means that citizens of Singapore are missing out on some useful data privacy regulations. There are also concerns around its “Smart Nation” policies and how they will infringe on Singaporeans’ data security.
As part of the “Smart Nation” vision there are plans to install surveillance cameras, which will be linked to facial recognition software, and for a satellite-based road pricing scheme which will track drivers. These are just a few elements of the “Smart Nation” which will be concerning to those who value their privacy.
In conclusion, if data privacy is a concern then it may be time to pack up and move. We hear that Reykjavik is lovely at this time of year.