Currently observed in the United States, Canada, Israel and a large number of European countries including the UK, today is Data Privacy Day (though it’s actually Data ‘Protection’ Day in the EU).
Set up by the Council of Europe in 2006, the idea is to have a specific marked date in the calendar to raise awareness about the rights to personal data protection and privacy.
The EU suggests these are carried out at government level to better inform the general public, plus feature ideas like educational projects for teachers and students and ‘open doors’ at data protection agencies and conferences.
And, after all, it’s not like we don’t need something like this: as the main Council of Europe page on all this notes, “Peoples personal data are being processed every second – at work, in their relations with public authorities, in the health field, when they buy goods or services, travel or surf the internet.
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“Individuals are generally unfamiliar with the risks related to the protection of their personal data and of their rights in this respect,”it goes on, adding how citizens “are seldom aware of what they can do if they consider that their rights have been breached, or of the role of national data protection agencies”.
In the UK, the ICO has chosen not to mark the day specifically on its website. However, a number of vendors are reminding us of the purpose of the day, such as Barry Cook, Privacy and Group Data Protection Officer at VFS Global, a visa and consular services provider.
“Although we may not appreciate it, personal information has become a prime commodity in our global economy. It provides a snapshot of our day-to-day lives, and can be used by organisations for targeted advertising and for determining the future behaviours of consumers, so ensuring it is sufficiently protected, and shielded from potential misuse, is key.”