Why do we have to care about Data Privacy Day?

Today is Data Privacy Day

January 28 is recognized as Data Privacy Day in over 50 countries. On this day in 1981, the first legally binding international instrument for data privacy of individuals, Convention 108 (The Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data) was opened for signature by the Council of Europe. Since then 56 countries around the world have ratified the treaty. The treaty protects the personal data of individuals against abuses by providing guarantees related to how personal data can be collected and processed and allows an individual's right to know and correct information stored about them.

Data Privacy Day was originally established in 2006 in Europe and since then has been adopted by many countries including the US and Canada to highlight the importance of data privacy. The initial focus was around education and awareness for both companies and individuals on how the privacy of data can be preserved online. Since then the activities associated with this day have expanded to include support for developing technology and tools to secure data, encouraging compliance with privacy laws and regulations, and creating dialogues among various stakeholders. Data Privacy Day is a good time for both individuals and organizations to understand their rights and obligations in recent regulations such as the GDPR and the CCPA and to learn about similar regulatory efforts that are underway in Maryland, Washington, and Florida, etc.

The last five years have seen dramatic growth in how personal information and data are collected, processed, and shared online. More and more activities that were traditionally offline (for example driving somewhere after looking at a map for directions) are becoming part of the online information footprint of individuals and reside across multiple organizations. Unfortunately, the dangers of this trove of personal information falling in the wrong hands are ever-growing also. It has become routine to see news articles about data breaches.

Consumers have also become smarter about maintaining the privacy and security of their data – remember the last time you had logged into a financial institution without two-factor authentication or options to set up an OTP (one-time passcode)? But more needs to be done as the information getting generated, collected, and processed continues to dramatically evolve and grow in volume. On this Data Privacy Day, we want to remind consumers to take some time to think about the security and privacy of their data. Make it a point to review this on a regular basis. There are a couple of small steps you want to take, make sure your passwords are strong and your data is encrypted. If you have not turned on two-factor authentication where it is available, do so.

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