It’s 2016 Data Protection Day!

2016 DP Day.jpg

Did you know January 28th is Data Protection Day? The Council of Europe started this annual celebration in 2006 to grow European’s awareness of their rights around how their personal data is collected and processed in the digital economy. For 20 years, Europe has led the world in developing comprehensive protection for individuals’ privacy rights, from the ground breaking 1995 data protection rules to the recent massive update to make them “fit for the digital age.” Europe has inspired other nations to build data protection safeguards, and Data Privacy Days too.

There is a passion for safeguarding citizen’s privacy in Europe, like nowhere else. It is a fundamental right, guaranteed in the European Union Charter.

Upholding fundamental rights to privacy is “not something Europe should be ashamed of.”
Koen Lenaerts, the Harvard trained European Court of Justice judge after invalidating Safe Harbor data transfers due to data protection concerns with US surveillance programs.

In 2008 the US and Canada extended Europe’s celebration by establishing a January 28th Data Privacy Day.

Oh Canada! The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada offers new resources to mark the Day.

Pacific Northwest. The Better Business Bureau of Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington celebrates the Day with a warning to think twice before you take that Facebook quiz to find your spirit animal. All kidding aside, they offer some excellent data protection tips.

Mississippi. The Mississippi Department of Information Technology suggests citizens check out this data privacy day video that recommends treating your information like money – value it and protect it!

Stay Safe Online, powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance, has a wonderful infographic on how privacy is good for business.

United States. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission has responsibility for consumers’ data privacy and security. The FTC’s privacy work goals remain: “to protect consumers’ personal information and ensure that consumers have the confidence to take advantage of the many benefits offered in the marketplace.” The US participated in the celebrations with a live FTC Twitter chat to promote privacy awareness and respect, and posted Tweets with some good practical data protection tips.

I wonder when the US will have a Data Privacy Commission.

Microsoft joins in the party too. But perhaps more enlightening is a read of Brad Smith’s Blog in which he chronicles global data security issues including the minefield of data privacy issues his company faces. Though self-serving for their cloud business, Brad’s blog is like a treatise on the privacy issues of our day.

“Microsoft needs to go beyond standing up for the rights of businesses and governments; we need to be a voice for people.”
Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer, Microsoft

Mexico used Data Protection Day to mark the Mexican Federal District Data Protection Authority’s endorsement of the signing of 13 principles on limiting surveillance.

Data Protection Day is not yet celebrated in all corners of the world. But with the vast amounts of digital information seeping across the internet, data protection continues to grow.

Brazil has a Draft Bill of Law on Personal Data Protection.

Hong Kong’s Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data Protection recently announced they plan to update their privacy laws to keep up with developments, citing the recent EU reforms. Hong Kong saw an upward trend in privacy complaints in 2015.

In South Korea, recent changes to the personal information protection legislation takes effect this month. The Korean Government  Personal Information Protection Commission develops policies and plans for data protections.

So let us celebrate all these global efforts supporting the protection of personal information. And, let us welcome the continued debates on privacy, digital commerce and national security that we face as a global community.

Happy 2016 Data Protection Day!

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