What is data protection?
“Data protection” refers to data collection and information security laws and technologies that safeguard sensitive data from theft, corruption or exposure. Data protection also concerns privacy and security legislation limiting the collection and processing of personal data, the global impact of this legislation, and individual’s expectations of privacy on the Internet.
Why is data protection crucial for brands?
Through effective prevention, detection, and responsiveness to data breaches, brands improve and maintain goodwill with consumers. Cybersecurity threats create new risks, but they also provide valuable opportunities for brands to demonstrate responsibility and build trust by adhering to data protection best practices.
How does data protection affect brand professionals?
Trademark practitioners, as custodians of brands, must be aware of the relevant data protection laws, procedures, and policies, so that they can fully protect and promote their brands. Trademarks are closely related to a company or brand’s reputation, and consumers trust companies that ensure and maintain reasonable security standards. Consumer trust can erode through non-alignment with data protection laws.
Data protection legislation can create complex and sometimes competing compliance challenges. For example, in certain jurisdictions brands are required by discovery laws to store data that may conflict with data protection laws. Brands may also be required to privatize or mask consumer or client data or to periodically delete some of this data. This may conflict with efforts to locate similar personal data related to infringing parties in order to file a claim to enforce trademark rights or to build a case. Therefore, data protection requirements make information more secure but also more difficult to access or to verify. This creates a dichotomy between privacy and security standards on the one hand and protective enforcement measures on the other, which are needed to fight infringement, counterfeiting, and cybercrime.
INTA’s Advocacy Focus
INTA supports trademark protections in order to protect consumers and to promote fair and effective commerce. Therefore, with respect to data protection, INTA focuses on providing trademark owners with valuable information on important aspects of data protection regulations worldwide that may affect trademark practice. Though INTA’s policy development is ongoing, INTA has submitted initial comments concerning the following subjects: privacy vs. security, harmonization across jurisdictions, and accountability and enforcement.
Privacy vs. security: Brands and practitioners are challenged to simultaneously develop both privacy and security best practices. These practices, in turn, provide consumers with assurances of trust, privacy, and safety, while providing brands with trademark rights protection and enforcement mechanisms that require transparency and access to private information; however, these two practices often conflict. INTA therefore prefers the term “data protection” to encompass both “privacy concerns” and brands’ “security concerns.”
Harmonization: INTA recommends a comprehensive and uniform approach, while respecting differences between jurisdictions and supporting proportionate privacy legislation that factors in variations in company size and investment capacity.
Accountability and enforcement: INTA recommends that once data protection regulations are mature, penalties for violations must be available and enforced in order to promote continued engagement and improvement of data protection regulations and practices.