Data Privacy Day highlights need to be cautious

By Randy Hollowell, information technology services

In a perfect world we would not need to recognize special days for things like data privacy. It would be automatic. Unfortunately, that is not the case. So, in an effort to help remind us how we can better protect our personal information, Jan. 28 has been established as National Data Privacy Day (DPD).

“Respecting Privacy, Safeguarding Data and Enabling Trust” is the theme for DPD, which was first introduced in Europe in 2007 but kick-started in the United States and Canada in January of the following year.

data-privacyI know what you’re thinking, “If we are all supposed to be concerned about our online personal data, why isn’t everyday DPD?” And you would be right. We do need to be constantly aware of what we are doing with our data. But, like that birthday that only comes once a year, we only officially recognize DPD annually.

So, why Jan. 28? This day was chosen to commemorate the signing of Convention 108 on that date in 1981. This was the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

In August 2011, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) assumed leadership of Data Privacy Day. A nonprofit, public-private partnership dedicated to promoting a safer, more secure and more trusted internet, NCSA is advised by a distinguished advisory committee of privacy professionals, including several who come directly from the world of higher education.

Data Privacy Day is the signature event in a greater privacy awareness and education effort. Year-round, NCSA educates consumers on how they can own their online presence and shows organizations how privacy is good for business. NCSA's privacy awareness campaign is an integral component of STOP. THINK. CONNECT. ‒ the global online safety, security and privacy campaign.

One of the things that makes DPD so important is that each of us is ultimately responsible for monitoring our own privacy and controlling our digital footprint. Having a special day set aside for this helps to escalate the protection of privacy and data as everyone's priority.

EDUCAUSE, the foremost community of IT leaders and professionals committed to advancing higher education, is also promoting Data Privacy Day and partnering with and other Data Privacy Day Champions. Every year EDUCAUSE gets involved to provide activities, resources and promotional tools to help you ensure every campus community is respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.

For more information about how EDUCAUSE gets involved, visit the Security Matters column for the latest privacy blogs. Additional resources for how you can stay safe can be found at the following sites:

EDUCAUSE Cybersecurity Initiative

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