Looks Like a Good Day for Data Privacy

Em Blog Data Privacy Day Main Image

Sharing personal data online has become so commonplace, we often don’t even recognize when it’s happening. Much of our private info is swimming around somewhere, waiting to be picked up by virtual snoopers or stolen in a corporate breach. That could be our name and address, financial info, shopping habits, photos, travel plans, medical history, and much more.

Personal data is the new “digital currency,” being bought and sold by companies and organizations at a frenzy to feed their analytics algorithms and develop more customized and effective outreach campaigns. While this certainly helps improve convenience and customer service, it also keeps the door wide open for abuse and misuse if people are not careful.

Data privacy has become a fundamental right for people, and each of us deserves the ability to know what personal information is being shared and in what way—and to remove it, if possible. This is one of the main reasons Data Privacy Day was established, helping remind people of the need to be aware of this essential security issue.

What is Data Privacy Day?

Data Privacy Day has its origins all the way back in 1981, when Europe commemorated the signing of Convention 108 with its own Data Protection Day. This was the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

Nowadays, Data Privacy Day exists as a reminder to prioritize safeguarding our personal data. Some organizations are now even extending this day into a full week. A main objective is helping people understand what data privacy laws are already in place, such as:

  • The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), which governs the collection of information about minors
  • The Health Insurance Portability and Accounting Act (HIPAA), which specifies how personally identifying information must be protected from theft or misuse
  • Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which imposes obligations on all organizations that target or collect data related to people in the EU

How to celebrate Data Privacy Day

All the legislation and technical safeguards in the world can only do so much to help enforce data privacy and protect individuals. Much like cybersecurity efforts, the “weakest link” in the process starts with the humans involved. If we unthinkingly trust organizations and surrender all our info for an exclusive discount or coupon signups, we are often giving away far more private data than we realize. Here are several steps we can all take to protect our data:

  • Be informed – Help spread the word about Data Privacy Day, whether in your organization or among your friends and peers. The more who know, the more you can support one another in privacy initiatives.
  • Be alert – Look at your daily online interactions and recognize where you are constantly being asked to share private data that you might not want to be made public or sold for a profit. Invest a bit of time in reading privacy policies when you sign up for accounts or memberships, and don’t just mindlessly accept terms you don’t understand.
  • Secure your data – Reinforce security for existing accounts with password updates, multi-factor authentication, access restrictions, and otherwise. You might even do a search for yourself to see what information is publicly available on the internet and whether there are ways you can decrease your digital footprint or block certain details from being viewable.
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  2. The New York Times, The Shameful Open Secret Behind Southwest’s Failure, December 2022
  3. ibid.
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  6. McKinsey, Demystifying digital dark matter, June 2022
  7. Washington Post, Y2K Repair Bill: $100 Billion, November 1999
  8. CPI Inflation Calculator, accessed January 2023
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  10. CNBC, Southwest Airlines’ schedule stabilizes after holiday meltdown but costs are still piling up, January 2023