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Data Privacy – A Deep Dive (Part 1): A 9Rooftops 3-Part Series

Evan Fung - Director of Analytics

As Director of Analytics, Evan Fung helps 9Rooftops’ clients compile critical website user data that enables businesses to enhance their business strategies. His comprehensive approach to analytics focuses on branding and sales goals.

Evan’s “Data Privacy – A Deep Dive,” is a three-part series on the complex, sometimes controversial, analytics ecosystem. First, Evan’s analytics deep-dive delves into the long, often forgotten, analytics history. Later, he discusses the more modern, familiar analytics headlines.

Contact Evan and the team at 9Rooftops for an analytics audit today.

Part 1 – Data Privacy: What Is It? Where Did It Begin?

What Is Data Privacy?

The term “data privacy” certainly stokes as many fears as it does complexities. At its core, data privacy is a person’s, or website user’s, ability to control what personal data is collected and how it is used. Website companies collect personal data through form submissions, cookies and geo-location applications. When this data is collected, the company may choose to leverage it for ad-serving purposes or share it with other companies/partners for a profit.

Data privacy means that you, the website surfer, or consumer, are in control of your data’s privacy. It means you understand when and where your data is shared, sold or leveraged for advertising.

Websites, newsletter signups, contact forms and alert signups often display how your submitted data will be used. This activity is intended to help users better grasp and control their data privacy.

But not all websites fully disclose their intentions with your data. And similarly, not all website surfers read data privacy notices. This results in compounding data privacy issues for the website user. And sometimes, it can result in corporate penalties and fines.

Why is data privacy important?

When your data privacy is compromised, you increase the risk of a slew of nefarious, ill-intentioned threats. For example, if your social security number, birthdate or middle name falls into the wrong hands, you could experience identity theft.

When marketers gain access to your mobile number or email, they are able to create unwanted marketing campaigns targeting you.

Early Days of Data Privacy (It’s Older Than You Think)

The concept of data/information privacy — as well as the concerns around it — have existed for longer than most are aware. Before TikTok and Facebook. Believe it or not, even before computers. In the U.S., the idea of data privacy as a concept is arguably as old as the country itself.


  • Ben Franklin appointed first Postmaster General of what would become the U.S. Postal Service
  • Early privacy measures:
  • Locked carriers’ saddle bags, which were only unsealed at destination
  • Made it an illegal and punishable offense to open someone else’s mail


  • Fourth Amendment introduced to Congress.
  • Prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and sets requirements for issuing warrants.


  • Morse code invented by Samuel Morse & Alfred Vail.
  • Initially brought an inherent level of privacy as users needed to know Morse code to understand messages.
  • Eventually, users began using cyphers to further encrypt messages and limit surveillance — particularly during wartime.

Through The Years

The laws concerning data privacy in the U.S. have evolved and expanded since those early days. The U.S. does not have one singular law or governing body that oversees data collection, protection and privacy — but rather a system of laws and organizations that each govern specific categories of personal information. This list includes, but is not limited to:

  • Federal Trade Commission (FTC) – nation’s primary enforcement agency for data privacy and security; enforcement actions on a wide range of privacy issues, including spam, social networking, behavioral advertising, pretexting, spyware, peer-to-peer file sharing and mobile.
  • Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) – health information
  • Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) – school records
  • Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) – data of children under 13
  • Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) – protection against telemarketing; imposes fines on telemarketers for calling numbers on do-not-call registry
  • California Online Privacy Protection Act (CalOPPA) – first U.S. state law requiring a privacy policy on the website of commercial websites and online services
  • California Electronic Communications Privacy Act (CalECPA) – requires state law enforcement to get a warrant before they can access electronic data on a device or from an online service provider
  • Delaware Online Privacy and Protection Act (DOPPA) – strictly regulates advertising directed at children, enhances the privacy protections of digital book readers and requires conspicuous posting of privacy policies that complies with the laws mandates.

Read on in Part 2 of the series


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