Data Privacy Day 2018 Comes at an Important Time in the Privacy and Security Debate

Data privacy in an era of the “Internet of Me”

Clearly, a lot has changed in the past 10 years. One major development, of course, was the rise of the new mobile-first reality, in which smartphones now act as daily, 24/7 generators of data and personal information.

Another development cited by the NCSA is the development of the “Internet of Me.” This is a conceptual framework to describe how many people now carry around several digital devices at one time, each one of them communicating information about their habits, preferences, and location. And there’s another factor to keep in mind as well, and that’s the growing consumer acceptance of wearables that track our physical fitness and health.

Thus, the “Internet of Me” can be visualized as a cloud of data and personal information that includes not just our demographic information (age, gender, national origin), but also our health data, our personal financial information, and insights into our shopping preferences, and possibly even our political inclinations.

So what can be done to encourage more privacy for the “Internet of Me”? That’s another of the focal points of this year’s 10th anniversary event. There needs to be more education on respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust. And more needs to be done to safeguard the Internet of Things (IoT). According to the NCSA, tens of billions of devices will be connected to the Internet by 2020, raising the risk for IoT users.

Growing groundswell of support for data privacy and data protection worldwide

Ultimately, Data Privacy Day is all about making people and businesses smarter about data privacy and data protection. As part of the educational materials prepared for the event, the NCSA outlines a wide range of steps that families and individual users can take to better protect themselves – such as knowing exactly what types of data they are transmitting every time they use an app, and what types of information corporations are collecting about them every time they visit a website.

As a result of previous outreach efforts, it’s perhaps no surprise that consumers are embracing web browsers that focus on personal privacy, and are becoming more circumspect every time they are asked to check a box on a “terms of service” page for websites and apps. That’s a positive step, and certainly a good sign that the educational mission of Data Privacy Day is succeeding as planned.

That being said, even the most hopeful optimist would agree that data breaches will still occur. In just the past 12 months, we’ve seen breaches at major companies that consumers once trusted with their data – including Equifax, Verizon and Uber. So, obviously, more can and should be done. All companies should be taking data privacy and data protection as seriously as the corporations that have signed on as sponsors of this annual event.

By taking time out every January to celebrate Data Privacy Day, individuals on both sides of the Atlantic – and indeed, around the world – can take the right steps to ensure the privacy and protection of their data and the data of their families. Individuals can take better action to protect and manage their privacy, while businesses can take steps to respect user privacy and safeguard customer data.

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