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The best and the worst in 2022: data protection laws across the world

Lee este artículo en español | Read this article in Spanish

Don’t look up. From catastrophic data breaches, to spyware attacks that haunt people with the specter of their own private communications, to the routine exploitation of our personal data for profit and political manipulation, privacy violations have become daily news. None of this will stop until we do something about it.

On Data Protection Day 2022, we are urging governments around the world to take action to prevent rampant data violations. To do so, they must enact and strongly enforce data protection laws.

Data protection laws are a critical tool to ensure minimum rules are in place to safeguard our personal information online and offline. The European Union was one of the first movers, establishing a data protection framework in the ‘90s, and working continuously to improve it. Other countries followed suit. Brazil and Ecuador are among the latest to pass strong, modern data protection laws.

Other countries are lagging behind, and despite constant privacy scandals, some have no comprehensive data protection laws at all. Others have passed promising laws, but ignore them. Even where strong laws exist, enforcing them is proving harder than expected. Here’s a look at countries with some of the best and worst data protection laws in 2022.

The countries that did not understand the assignment

The countries to watch

The countries that are on right track — but have to step up

Data protection goes international

Data protection is an important part of international negotiations. One of the top priorities is finding a way to ensure that data can flow between countries while maintaining a high standard of protections. This entails not only ensuring that privacy protections exist in the relevant countries but in some cases, that a country undertakes surveillance reform.

When governments have disproportionate access to people’s data and the data held by private companies, it undermines privacy around the world. Governments like the US have been tiptoeing around surveillance reform since the Snowden revelations. Their lack of action prevents progress on data flow agreements. In 2022, we will be watching important discussions on reform between the EU and the US and in international forums such as the OECD and the G7.

What happens next

The coming year has a lot of potential for improving data protection across the globe. We’re here to help. Access Now’s guide to creating a data protection framework, available in English, Spanish, and Arabic, is a good resource for lawmakers. We have additional regional updates and resources on our dedicated data protection page. We encourage you to reach out with any questions you may have.

Together, we can make badly needed progress. Onward!