Forrester Research Inc. has laid out some of its predictions regarding privacy in 2021. Among those predictions include a 100% increase in regulatory and legal activity related to employee privacy, a significant change in whom privacy leaders report to within the enterprise and more. 
From privacy failures in AI that threaten individuals’ equality, to privacy violations that undermine market fairness and hurt consumers and businesses, to unethical practices that propagate unwarranted surveillance inside the workplace, diminishing employees’ trust and experience, the implications of privacy will run deeply into business and society in the next 12 months.

After a slowdown due to the pandemic, the increasingly evident interdependencies between privacy, ethics, fairness and transparency will lead to more scrutiny not only from privacy regulators, but also competition authorities and consumers’ rights protection bodies in 2021. However, these values don’t just matter to regulators. They matter to consumers and customers, too.

Despite the recessionary economy, values-based consumers will increasingly prefer to engage with and entrust their data to ethical businesses. Data ethics will also impact B2B relationships, and the next 12 months will witness partnerships strengthened or broken based on data-handling practices.

Here are a couple of Forrester's predictions:

Regulatory and legal activity related to employee privacy will increase 100%.

Consumer demand, innovation, and the pandemic are changing the way we work and igniting employers’ desire to collect, analyze, and share
employee personal data. It’s an opportunity, but without the right safeguards, it becomes a trap, and we predict in 2021 regulatory and legal activity regarding employee privacy will double. While European regulators are already enforcing privacy rules to protect employees’ personal data, countries like Brazil, India and Thailand will soon do the same. In the U.S., given the corporate practices and policies that often limit or deny employees a right to privacy, the battle to determine what is a reasonable expectation of workplace privacy will be fought in the courts. Expect employee privacy lawsuits to multiply in the next 12 months. Companies must take a privacy-by-design approach when handling employee personal data, including 1) identifying requirements; 2) assessing specific privacy and ethical risks; and 3) communicating transparently with employees.

Forty percent of privacy leaders will report to the CEO.

In 2019, 23% of privacy leaders reported to the CEO. Forward-looking firms understand privacy is bigger than a legal and compliance matter. Privacy is a revenue driver, tied to business resiliency, and a systemic risk if not adequately addressed. The pandemic has put issues of employee privacy and supplier risk at the forefront, requiring added support for HR and risk stakeholders. The rise of values-based customers, with privacy as the number one corporate value that matters most, will incent firms to embed privacy into the customer experience.

For more 2021 privacy predictions, read the full report.