Is ‘National Data Privacy Day’ that important?

By Julianne Spencer | Student Posts | January 24, 2018

The next “National Data Privacy Day” is this Monday January 28, and apparently is an international holiday that’s celebrated here in the U.S., but also in 50 other countries as well. More individuals, businesses, babies, and puppies are penetrating social networks than ever before, but in this rapid growth, raising awareness about privacy and data protection is one of the ways consumers are grappling with the fact that their data are used in ways unknown to them.

Data Privacy Day began in the U.S. in 2009 when the House of Representatives voted in favor of it with the intention of raising awareness about how businesses and individuals share their personal information online — with social networking and mobile devices at top of mind. As Big Data has become more relevant, and has revealed how quickly it can categorize and sort consumer data from mobile devices, consumers realize this goes beyond just compromising your credit card or bank account. Consumer data collected from online activity is being used and analyzed to determine psychological patterns, spending habits, political affiliations, and more of different people throughout the world.

So what does this “international holiday” do? It reminds us that everything we share online and everything we’ve shared in the past is never truly erased, so be careful what you put out there. Even as legal firms push with the california consumer privacy act, or other legal protections, there is a need to be aware of your own data.

As David Markowitz, a Professor of Social Media Analytics at the University of Oregon, said on Tuesday, “Technology knows more about you than you know yourself.”

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2018 was a reminder of how our social networking activities are surveillanced. Last year, The Guardian and The New York Times reported that over 87 million Facebook profiles were used for data harvesting and manipulation. The company lost roughly $119 billion in market capitalization after this incident and led consumers to be more concerned about privacy than they were before. In 2018, the European Union created the General Data Protection Regulation, which as of now is currently the world’s most stringent privacy law.

What National Data Privacy Data Day should draw attention to is, as Andrew Burt, Chief Privacy Officer and Legal Engineer at Immuta said in the Harvard Business Review, “…the biggest risk to our privacy and our security has become the threat of unintended inferences, due to the power of increasingly widespread machine learning techniques. Once we generate data, anyone who possesses enough of it can be a threat, posing new dangers to both our privacy and our security.”

This holiday should draw attention to how we distribute data consciously, but also make us think about how we unconsciously submit data as well. From everything to our health, our political preferences, data is being collected to help determine facts about us we don’t even know exist. The silver lining to these data breaches and realizations about consumer data collection is that consumers are taking initiative to become more informed. Because, let’s face it, as we become more visible on social media, or as people create Facebook profiles for their children who were literally born yesterday, the idea of protecting privacy is something we must think about more consciously.

We as consumers know that our data is being collected, which should encourage us to think thoroughly and deliberately about what we say and images we post. If anything National Data Privacy Day allows us to think twice about what content we want to represent us years from now.

Twitter: @juliannespencer

(Images are taken from Marketing Land, Forever Twenty Somethings, and Forbes)

This Article Has 3 Comments
  1. Nikki Heaston says:

    Thank you for this post. I didn’t even know that this day existed and knowing that it’s tomorrow is making me feel motivated to share something about it on my social media pages. It’s scary to think that everything I post is being used somehow and analyzed in a number of different ways to create a picture of me. Privacy really doesn’t exist on social media (in my opinion) which is why I try to stay away from any topics that can come back to bite me. I’m thinking that it would be good to remind all of our social media friends and followers that they may want to think twice before posting their pictures from a party or ranting about their boss. Great post!

  2. Ian Burleigh says:

    Nice work, Julianne! I, too, did not realize that National Data Privacy Day was even a thing. The use of using people’s social postings/activities as data to paint a picture of them creates this interesting conundrum in my eyes. We have already talked so much about how people carefully curate what they post in order to present the “best case” image of themselves. To me, this means that people aren’t fully portraying their true selves online. If this is the case and I’m a business, how much do I really trust these profiles that are generated based on posted content and the like? From an individual perspective, I believe in being authentic and true to yourself online. By doing so, is there really anything to worry about in terms of what we post? Should we care more about what others say about us, or what we say about ourselves?

  3. Oleene Perera says:

    This is scarily timely as my friend awoke to strangers at her door asking about her yard sale just 2 weeks ago in one of the safest communities in the country. One problem however, was that she wasn’t having one. Someone had taken her address and distributed the info as a false ad. Not only was it absolutely terrifying for her alone, but even more so with infant children. The police are involved in trying to track how this information was released but digital tracks are very hard to trace.

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