Data Privacy Day: Date, Purpose & What You Can Do

Updated

Given the amount of personal, financial, and media data stored on digital platforms, data privacy should be an important part of our lives. However, most digital users aren’t aware of the importance of data privacy or methods of protecting their data. Now, thanks to Data Privacy Day, the conversation around this critical component of our digital lives is starting to gain attention. 

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Are you aware of this important day? Maybe you’ve never heard about it before, but you want to know more about protecting your data. Read on as we discuss what this day is all about, how you can participate, and when to mark your calendar for the next Data Privacy Day.

What Is Data Privacy Day?

Data Privacy Day is a globally recognized day that seeks to highlight digital privacy practices and the principles governing data management worldwide. It exists due to the urgent need to educate people about protecting their data from exploitation, theft, fraud, and hacking.

Data Privacy Day was established to accomplish two primary goals. First, developments and improvements are highlighted to demonstrate progress made in the data privacy field. Second, there is a focus on educating and promoting awareness among data users and consumers about the importance of keeping their data private.

Not only does this day encourage people to manage data of all kinds, but online privacy is also discussed and promoted. Across the globe, there is a push on this day on the private and government levels to educate individuals, internet users, and cybersecurity professionals to take a more hands-on approach to data privacy.

Origin

This day first started in 2007 when the Council of Europe pushed for a European Data Protection Day. In 2009, the US Senate and House of Representatives officially recognized January 28th as International Data Protection Day.

January 28th was established in the US as Data Privacy Day because the date itself has a history. On January 28, 1981, the Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data Treaty was signed into existence in Europe. Since that’s a mouthful, the treaty is often referred to as Convention 108. Convention 108 was the first of its kind to define, promote, and empower data and privacy protection laws on an international level.

Though Data Privacy Day is held on January 28th each year, the National Cybersecurity Alliance (NCA) plans to extend the campaign into a week-long affair and rename it Data Privacy Week starting in 2022.

Purpose

Data Privacy Day exists primarily to spread awareness about the need for online privacy and promote the ways that people can secure their data. Government and private groups use this day to advocate for more awareness and safety to be used by those who use digital services, software, apps, and programs on the internet. There is also a focus on encouraging businesses to handle data more responsibly and use consumer data with more transparency.

This is an important day for everyone that utilizes digital platforms. Every time you use the internet, an app, or another digital platform, you provide and generate data. Even if you don’t realize it, you store, upload, and transfer financial, informational, or personal information every time you log onto apps, browse web pages, and use web-based services.

The question you have to ask is whether you really have full control over who gets to use your online data. The harsh reality is that you have no control at all if you don’t know how to protect it. Data Privacy Day highlights effective methods and applications that you can use to safeguard your data.

When Is Data Privacy Day?

Data Privacy Day falls on January 28. The National Cybersecurity Alliance decided to dedicate an entire week to this critical cause from January 24 through the 28th. 

Data Privacy Day Themes From the Past

Each Data Privacy Day has a theme that serves to help individuals and corporate organizations focus on specific data privacy topics. Here are several themes that have been used.

“Own Your Privacy”

This theme is a straightforward call for all internet users to take charge of their online privacy. The first step in protecting data is for individual users to own their privacy and do their part to keep their data safe. The theme was set against the backdrop of rising large-scale data breaches that have led to consumer data exposure and business asset loss.

 

Some of the action steps promoted by this theme included:

“Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data, Enabling Trust”

This theme focused on defining online privacy boundaries and teaching users and businesses to respect those boundaries. There was also a focus on the need for companies who used data collection tools to safeguard user data to earn the trust of consumers.

“Call to Action”

This theme was used to mark the 10th anniversary of Data Protection Day. There was a clear “call to action” given to organizations around the world to step up and take user data privacy law more seriously.

“Less Is More. Some Things Are Better Left Unshared”

Given the fact that our data gets collected as we interact with the internet, data privacy sometimes has more to do with what we allow than the companies that want to collect our data. When we willfully give out information like our location, birth date, and contact information, companies instantly have more information about us than they would have if we didn’t provide them with it in the first place.

This campaign sought to educate internet users about the correlation between a smaller data footprint and increased privacy.

Data Privacy Day Activity Ideas

Ready to jump in and get involved in Data Privacy Day? Here are some activities you can participate in on your own, with friends, or with an entire company. 

Educate your colleagues 

Use Data Privacy Day to educate anyone you work with about the importance of keeping their online data safe. If you’re in a leadership position, consider bringing the campaign to work and educating your colleagues about recent changes to online privacy rules and how they can stay ahead of the curve.

Organize training sessions on privacy

If you have a leadership position at work or in your community, consider organizing privacy training sessions for Data Privacy Day. Create sessions focused on practical methods that people can protect their data and keep it secure.  

Practice data privacy 

You’ve heard about the importance of data privacy, but are you putting those principles into practice? You can start by educating yourself on methods and then implementing them. Changing just a few things can go a long way in keeping your data secure. Consider the following options as you practice data privacy:

  • Utilize a VPN at work and home
  • Update and use stronger passwords
  • Invest in a password manager 
  • Use backup cloud services to keep your data backed up

Seek professional data privacy recommendations

If you lead a company’s IT department, it’s best to do a thorough check to make sure your company is privacy compliant. If there are questions as to the degree of compliance to international privacy data laws, seeking expert services might be needed. 

Depending on your company, it’s critical that you and your employees are educated on privacy laws, the detrimental effects of data breaches, and how to protect sensitive data such as pension and HIPAA information.

Join Privacy Day events online

Join privacy experts from around the world online in organized virtual events. These events are an opportunity to reflect on past privacy policies and their performance. You can also join in discussions about anticipated privacy changes in your region and the larger global community. 

Host lunch and a movie

Looking for something a bit more laid back? Consider hosting a lunch for your co-workers where the topic of conversation is centered on Data Privacy Day. Then, show a data privacy-related movie such as Citizenfour, The Great Hack, or Minority Report. If you don’t have time for a whole movie, choose a data-focused TED talk instead.

Be sure to guide discussions with specific questions and talking points that solicit feedback and input from your employees. The more empowered your employees are regarding data security, the more secure your company as a whole will be from hackers, fishers, and scammers that manage to trick people on a regular basis.

Hold a Q&A session

If you hold a privacy-related position at work, Data Privacy Day provides the perfect opportunity to organize a Q&A session with coworkers. It allows you to start conversations on current privacy topics and clear away misconceptions that your organization might have on data privacy.

While you can certainly do something like this in person, you can also keep the conversation running by opening a dedicated Q&A channel on your company's messaging platform. Use the platform to answer questions and provide useful privacy tips throughout the day and weeks to come.

Set reminders for yourself 

Keeping our data safe is heavily reliant on being up to date with the latest technology, tips, and tricks for data safety. Set reminders for yourself to do things like:

  • Change passwords
  • Update app and website permissions 
  • Back up your data to a secure cloud platform
  • Educate yourself on the latest hacking trends and company breeches

The more you stay on top of your own data privacy, the better chances you have for keeping your information safe.

Final Thoughts 

Data privacy is every individual's concern and responsibility. As much as we should hold companies responsible for how they use consumer data, it’s ultimately up to us to keep our information as safe as possible. This Data Privacy Day, take a few moments to make some changes and beef up the security and safety of your data. 


Sources:
  1. “About Data Privacy Week.” Data Privacy Week, National Cybersecurity Alliance, 2022. Staysafeonline.org.
  2. “Data Privacy Day 2019.” Data Privacy Day, Privitar, 28 January 2019. Privitar.com.
  3. Leach, Emily. “Privacy Pros!” Data, Sentinel, 24 January 2020. Sentinelcsg.com.
  4. Matteson, Scott. “Data Privacy Day: Security Experts’ Tips for 2022.” Security, Tech Republic, 27 January 2022. Techrepublic.com
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