January 28 is a special day. And not just because it is Blueberry Pancake Day or National Kazoo Day. Today is National Data Privacy Day, and it celebrates awareness on a topic that is near and dear to our hearts: protecting your personal information online.
Originally started in Europe, and later formally recognized by the US Congress through House Resolution HR 31 in 2009, Data Privacy Day is now a worldwide educational event. Here, we would like to share some of our thoughts on a very important subject.
How data privacy affects you
It’s no secret that companies store a lot of sensitive customer data nowadays. This article, for example, describes some of the information that Google stores about you when you use its services – including phrases you search, videos you watch, and your Google Maps destinations. In fact, most of your online activities – including shopping, social media, customer service and more – leave behind digital footprints that are often stored as data.
Why do companies collect your personal data online? There is a saying in the online world that when a service is free (and often even when it isn’t), you are the product. Many firms generate revenue by aggregating and monetizing your data, whether it is the results of your online searches, social media usage, streaming entertainment, and more. In the case of some genealogy or health services, your DNA may even be part of a database somewhere.
In addition, a great deal of your individual information is also searchable online, from sources such as public records or past activity. It isn’t a bad idea to periodically search for yourself online and see what information is out there about you, and be aware of your rights to have this information removed by many of these services.
According to a WIRED Magazine article that chronicles the history of personal data collection, there is a growing push for regulating data privacy in the US, including a strict new privacy law in California that took effect in early 2020. And Europe is a step ahead of us with their 2018 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), requiring explicit customer permission for most data collection and giving consumers the “right to be forgotten.” While more legal and regulatory interventions loom in the future, data privacy will continue to be an issue for most of us for many years to come.
What we do to protect your privacy
We firmly believe that people and businesses own their data. That’s why, in addition to our own data privacy practices, we support firms in maintaining compliance with growing data privacy regulations such as Europe’s strict GDPR standards, the US Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and more. You can find out more about these efforts here.
We are also proud to be listed as a Data Privacy Day Champion by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, together with hundreds of other organizations including Levi Straus & Company, Monster.com, McAfee, my alma mater UC San Diego and many others dedicated to spreading the word about data privacy. To learn more about the Alliance and their activities, visit them online at www.staysafeonline.org. And here’s to making every day Data Privacy Day.