Welcome to history class
When your third-grade teacher asked you what you wanted to be when you grew up, we’re guessing the odds are pretty high that you didn’t stand up and yell, “An expert on data privacy!”
You probably didn’t say it in high school or college either.
Heck, we are experts on data privacy, and we weren’t scouring want ads for sweet, entry-level data privacy jobs when we graduated from college 20+ years ago.
Before computers and data processing became big business in the 1970s, major privacy legislation was fairly non-existent. When privacy laws did pass, they were almost always based on protecting citizens’ privacy from the government. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the government agency most often charged with managing privacy issues in the US, was created in 1914 but it wasn’t until the 1970s that privacy fell under its purview.
It took until 1986 for the US federal government to pass a privacy law that affected marketing and privacy. With the Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the creation of a National Do Not Call Registry, the business world finally had laws governing how they used the data they collected from consumers. Still, there were far fewer laws governing the collection of data.
The European Union (EU) took that ball and ran, passing their Data Protection Directive in 1995. More aggressive than anything ever passed in the US, the Data Protection Directive put the EU firmly at the forefront of the battle for consumer data privacy. It’s a spot they still occupy today, thanks to the General European Data Regulation (GDPR), which is currently the gold standard of privacy laws in terms of protections.