Data Privacy for startups: Here’s why legal advice can’t be an afterthought

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With a swift growth in the digital marketplace and boom in e-commerce, entrepreneurs now have a robust platform where they can build and develop their business. However, with easy access to online data, the chances of a privacy breach have also increased many folds. Recognising the fact that when it comes to consumer rights and their safety, holds utmost importance, the government is making strict laws which can help determine the accountability in case of privacy breach and indications for subsequent legal actions.

The Personal Data Protection Bill 2018, presented to the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in 2018, if passed, will become the strictest regulation of protection of personal data in the world. Supreme Court of India also in 2017, declared that privacy is a fundamental right of all Citizens of India.

Nevertheless, as the digital market place is getting more organised and protocol-driven, entrepreneurs are also becoming more sensitised. There is an increased awareness to the fact that if done without following set protocol, even a simple act like analysing user data for more targeted and tailored advertisements may actually amount to a serious privacy breach. However, experts point that when it comes to handling the finer nuances of data privacy laws, clearly need a helping hand.

“To evade legal issues and costs, most startups simply copy-paste the privacy policies from their competitors and start their business in full swing. While doing so, they completely ignore the legal compliances and the impact of their own privacy policies and terms,” says Abha Kashyap, Managing Partner at , a law firm.

Experts say that startups need to have customised terms and condition and privacy policies emerge from the simple fact that every corporation is different and has a different set of services or products to offer, therefore it is recommended that they have their own policies which fit their scope of operations. So, while it seems like an easy way out to copy-paste such policy, it is not wise to do so.

“To avoid legal complications it is necessary that every startup have their own privacy policies or terms and conditions which also encompass the laws of the country. This is why we recommend to all the start-ups to at least consult a few law firms or lawyers to ensure that they are in compliance with all the applicable laws and regulations,” suggest Kashyap.

Considering that most startups run on a tight budget, industry experts stress that unlike common perception, taking legal advice or having an in-house lawyer who assists them with their legal compliances, is actually quite affordable. Besides, with the Information Technology Act and Rules becoming increasingly more strict with the aim of ensuring the data-privacy and protection of the consumers, it is high time when entrepreneurs should start including the cost of having themselves covered from any legal issue pertaining to compliance.

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