Data research firm Forrester recently released a study on the privacy laws of 61 countries, finding that many nations spent 2018 passing stringent privacy regulations and more would continue to do so in 2019.

The EU’s adoption of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has prompted countries across the world to pass their own data privacy laws.

As more and more of the world’s citizens have gained access to devices that can open them up to the internet, it has become incumbent upon countries to protect citizens with laws that regulate data sharing and the control some companies have over troves of personal information.

“Apart from EU’s GDPR to California’s CCPA and Brazil’s LGPD which have been passed, more regulations are in the works, including those from other US states like Massachusetts, as well as India and Japan,” Forrester said in a press email.

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Most of the countries in the survey are in the process of mulling laws that would go further in protecting people’s data, but there have been some hangups. The survey noted that some governments have intently focused on GDPR-like laws in an effort to either distract or shield other laws that allow surveillance by government entities.

“Government surveillance made fewer headlines but remains a concern. Regulations that allow governments to access personal data of citizens are still undermining overall privacy protections,” Forrester added.

“It is a worldwide phenomenon that cuts across geographies, economic development, societal well-being, and institutional design, with alarming levels of government surveillance in countries such as Austria, Colombia, India, Kuwait, and the UK.”

The survey said most of the privacy laws being passed were great for citizens, but were incredibly complicated for companies that now have to focus efforts and resources on compliance with varying laws in different states and countries.

“Knowledge about regulatory requirements is not only critical to evolve and execute compliance programs in response to regulators’ demands, but it is also essential to provide the conditions of certainty and continuity that business innovation needs to flourish,” said Forrester senior analyst Enza Iannopollo.

“Even more importantly, to be ready to meet and exceed the privacy rights and fast-growing expectations of customers worldwide.”

Now that the GDPR has been fully implemented, some companies have had time to prepare and adjust their practices to match up with these new legal realities, Iannopollo said. But many still struggled to get in line with many of the GDPR’s rules.

“Compliance with data protection regulation continue to be the top priority for firms globally. 35 percent of firms globally are ‘GDPR-ready’ and new, stringent privacy regulation are being discussed and adopted every day,” he added.

“Our research doesn’t focus only on the well-known privacy developments in Europe, California, or Brazil, but we also looked at Nigeria, Japan, Thailand, and the potential of Brexit on data protection matters, to name only a few examples.”

For more, check out TechRepublic’s EU GDPR Cheat Sheet.

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