Data Privacy Day falls each year on January 28th. This day marks an international effort to create awareness about the importance of respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.
This day is so important to us because millions of people are unaware and uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected, and shared online.
So many of us are accustomed to checking off the box indicating that we agree with the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies for a given service, but do you really understand what happens when you do this? How many companies have you mindlessly permitted to share your personal information with 3rd parties? What information have you authorized businesses to collect about you outside of what you consciously provided? Which companies simply aren’t transparent about what they do with your data? How many companies say that they handle your data securely, but don’t actually do it?
Why talk about Data Privacy?
Everyday news emerges about new data breaches and what can (and should) have been done beforehand that would have prevented the situation in the first place. Every day thousands of people suffer the horrific effects of data breaches. By actively talking about data privacy, the issue no longer sits on the back burner. It becomes something that we all can work to achieve through education and transparency.
Data privacy is something that has always been important. This is why we put locks on cabinets and don’t leave our personal data lying around. With more and more data being held digitally and tools for hackers becoming more easily accessible, the need to secure data online has become more critical than ever.
When data that should be kept private - financial details, social security numbers, usernames, passwords, and more -fall into the wrong hands, bad things can happen. For example, a data breach at a school or financial institution paves an easy path for a criminal to commit identity theft. A breach at a government agency can put top-secret information in the hands of an enemy nation.
How can I impact data privacy?
Data privacy is something that everyone needs to hold themselves accountable for. Just as steps should be taken at the government and corporate levels, every individual should take steps to protect themselves as well. Here are some things that you can do:
- Use strong, unique passwords for each of your online accounts. Learn more about password safety here: How to Create a Strong Password That You Will Remember
- Don’t automatically provide personal information, like your social security number, just because you’re asked for it. Ask questions to determine if they really need it and ask for more information about how they keep your information secure.
- Ask about data privacy policies in your workplace. If there are none or if they seem to be lacking, suggest learning materials to promote education and implementation of data privacy policies.
- Use a browser protection tool like Guardio to identify when a website or extension you access contains malicious code, phishing attempts, or scams to avoid falling victim to a breach of your privacy through these means.
- At home, use a mail slot or locking mailbox so thieves aren’t able to intercept mail that may contain private information like account numbers.
- Regularly assess your privacy settings on social media to ensure that you’re not sharing information with those who shouldn’t have it. Learn more about 10 Things You Should Not Share Online.