Hey, what's up DEV community?
Today, I want to talk about privacy policies and data collection... I know, the boring stuff, but I promise I'll keep this post short!
☁️ Which privacy policies (local/national/international) can you name and know what they stand for?
What can we as developers do to enhance people's knowledge of privacy and data security on the internet? Given that it's a big topic these days (as it should be) especially continuing from the big changes in GDPR that swept across Europe in 2018 and most recently several months ago when big companies began to feel the 🔥 and our email inboxes blew up with privacy-related changes, is there a way for us to learn about how to leverage our unique skillset (yes, I'm looking at you, dev! We do have superpowers and that comes with responsibility! 😄) to help educate people?
I know, you might be thinking, "Yeah, I run tutorials and podcasts on coding, and I mentor students at work. What are you trying to say?"
The truth is, people who aren't in tech often take the brunt of the consequences when data breaches happen on top of privacy policies that haven't been transparent in how they collect/use/sell personal data. Developers in my opinion have a bias where we don't see outside the lens of our tech bubble and we may forget (to our dismay) to translate tech-y legal jargon down to end-users.
You're probably thinking, "But I just do the code! And it's not really our fault the data got taken by a cybercriminal who just felt like it! 😟"
Hmm, yes but it's not just about the state of the code (yes that's absolutely a preventative measure) - it's also about our policies! It's the before, during, and after process - the blueprint for how we respond to and take care of user data. It's what we agree to and are legally bound to in the beginning of doing data collection and the who-what-when-why-hows if something happens that jeopardize user information entrusted to us. So, if we aren't able to translate technical jargon down to end-users, are we sure we understand privacy policies? 👀
Who was it that said that if you can't teach someone a concept like a 6-year old, then you don't understand the concept well enough? 💡
Well, not to fear! Our tech has been advancing at a pace like never before and we are so lucky in this generation to be able to access and afford the luxury of the internet (yep, that's another story!) and the immense resources that come with it. As users of software and platforms ourselves, we are surely affected when data breaches happen, even to the best of us. My user experience (UX) design/research side makes me want to say, "Let's empathize with users"! I know, like all living (or code) creatures, we grow stronger from testing the waters and battle-testing our wits/comfort zones. From experiencing distress and failures, we can learn from them and sprout new concepts, ideas, and better solutions at keeping data safe and making our privacy policies stronger 💪🏼.
Multiple Choice Time! 😈 Kidding! Sorry I'm a student so I like to poke fun- okay, I digress!
What are the full names AND purposes of the below privacy regulations? Time to travel the world! ✈️
BONUS: If you're Canadian and in healthcare, answer this 👇🏼
Q: What does PHIPAA stand for and what's it do?
The main gist of this post was to get devs thinking (in, literally, the best dev community ever, pun intended) about our roles and responsibilities that extend beyond code and best practices. I'll be sure to list some resources below! We already have the power to make websites accessible (go A11y!) and make complex and more usable interfaces (go UX!) to power-tool our lives, so why not taste new flavours?
So, in conclusion, while developers and companies know the technicalities of privacy policies and data collection, why doesn't the public know more? I often wonder the same thing (as my web development skills get better) and while I haven't worked for a major tech company yet, it's never too late to touch up on the legal side of tech!
- What are cookies? (ft. on Nuxt.js) - helping laypeople understand cookies
- Privacy Monitor - diverse collection of privacy monitoring for major companies like LinkedIn and Netflix, and more
- 🇨🇦 Canadian Privacy Laws government website
- GDPR website
Don't end here! Study on your own or even read for 5 minutes if it means sitting on the toilet for that long 😄. I'm still learning today and much of my inspiration for this post came from the recent #LearnToCodeWithMe podcast S6E14 episode I listened to who interviewed Sheila FitzPatrick, one of the world's leading experts in data privacy laws. As a continuously-learning frontend developer and UI/UX designer, I'm always up for learning new things and adding to my toolbelt the best ways to empower communities and people and social good with tech.
Thank you so much! Drop me a message or heart, unicorn, and save this article for later! 💕
Image credits: Dan Nelson on Unsplash