Millions of people are unaware of and uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected or shared in our digital society.
Data Privacy Day occurs on January 28 annually and is led by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA). Its purpose is to inspire dialogue and empower individuals and companies to respect privacy, safeguard data and enable trust.
Increasing relevance of protecting privacy
In 2020, there was an accelerated transition to a digital society due to the global pandemic. This intensified questions about privacy and data protection. Concerns heightened due to the shift to telework, virtual education, and telemedicine as well as the collection and tracking of sensitive information.
The need for cyber security protection has never been more evident. A survey by Pew Research reported in November 2019 that a majority of Americans had privacy concerns and felt they lacked control of the data collected by companies and the government:
- 79% lacked confidence that companies protect personal data or would take responsibility if data were compromised.
- 75% did not believe companies would be held accountable by the government if their data was misused.
- 78% understood very little or nothing about what the government does with the data they collect.
The United States is still lacking federal privacy laws. Though some states have proposed legislation, there is no unified approach being pursued by the federal government.
In July 2020, enforcement of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect. Subsequently, in November 2020, Californians voted to approve the California Privacy Rights Act of 2020 (CPRA), which expands the existing CCPA and establishes an independent privacy regulation agency effective January 1, 2023. California will be the first state with an independent enforcement agency focusing exclusively on privacy protections.
Advice for Individuals: Own your Privacy
NCSA provides some basic privacy tips to help individuals better manage their personal information and make informed decisions:
- Personal information is like money: Value it. Protect it. Personal information is very valuable to businesses – for example, your purchase history, location or IP (Internet Protocol) address. Make informed decisions about sharing your data – consider the amount of personal information requested and evaluate it against the benefits you will receive.
- Keep tabs on your apps. Many apps request access to personal information, such as your location, contacts or photos, before you can use their services. Be mindful of who gets that information and wary of apps that require access to information that is irrelevant to the services offered. Delete unused apps on all internet-connected devices, and keep all software current.
- Manage your privacy settings. Check the privacy and security settings on internet services and apps to ensure they are set to your comfort level for information sharing. Visit the NCSA’s Manage Your Privacy Settings page to find out where to view or change your privacy and security settings on popular devices and online services.