Data Privacy Day photo

Over the last 10 years, the number of internet users has more than doubled, going from 1.97 billion to over four billion. As internet usage continues to rise, so does the concern around data privacy — and for good reason. In 2019, data breaches exposed 7.9 billion records, with 5,183 breaches reported during the first nine months of the year.

As we begin a new decade, Data Privacy Day is an appropriate moment to acknowledge that we’re in the midst of a privacy transformation. The year 2020 and beyond promise even more tech advancements, driving increased online usage and emphasizing the importance of data privacy for both businesses and consumers.

What is Data Privacy Day?

Data Privacy Day, known in Europe as Data Protection Day, is an annual international effort to empower individuals and businesses to respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust. January 28, 2020, marks the 13th annual Data Privacy Day from Stay Safe Online, powered by the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) in the U.S. The day originated in the U.S. and Canada in 2008 as an extension of Europe’s Data Protection Day, and it is now celebrated in over 50 countries. The date also commemorates the signing of Convention 108 on January 28, 1981, which marks the first legally binding international treaty concerning privacy and data protection.

How to protect your personal data privacy 

According to a recent Pew study, a majority of Americans feel they have little control over data collected about them by companies and the government. The best way to protect your personal privacy is to take control of the data you’re sharing. Follow these tips: 

  • Use two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA is a process that gives web services secondary access to you to verify a login attempt. Typically, this involves a mobile phone number or an email address. Follow these steps to set up 2FA on all your accounts. 
  • Encrypt your data. Working remotely? There’s no better way to protect your personal data than with encryption.The easiest way to apply encryption is through the regular use of a VPN. A VPN securely funnels all of your internet data to a private server.
  • Take advantage of privacy settings. Each device, application, or browser you use has different features to limit how and with whom you share info. Use this helpful resource from NCSA to update your privacy settings on popular devices and online services.
  • Use security and antivirus software. If your computer requires antivirus software, make sure it is always up to date. Security and antivirus software can protect you from malicious browser helper objects, ransomware, spyware, and more.
  • Use a password app or digital vault. Apps like LastPass offer a secure way to store usernames, passwords, and other sensitive personal data.
  • Be wary of phishing scams. Never click on suspicious links or banner ads, and don’t open emails or direct messages on any app that appear spammy or malicious.
  • Use Wi-Fi wisely. Public Wi-Fi is available just about everywhere, but you should still use public networks with caution. Use only secure networks when possible. 
  • Share with care. Think before posting online. Part of maintaining your data privacy is controlling what you share and with whom. Keep in mind that anything you post online can live online forever.
  • Monitor your personal identity. Use an app to get alerts when your data has been compromised. Credit Karma is a free credit monitoring app that also offers free identity monitoring

How to protect customer data

Data Privacy Day also encourages businesses to create a culture of privacy in their organization by educating employees on the importance of protecting consumer and employee data, as well as the role they play in keeping it safe. In an era of transparency, it’s more important than ever for organizations to advocate for data privacy and work toward compliance. Here are some tips to help your organization protect customer data: 

  • If you collect it, protect it. Put reasonable security measures in place to protect customer data from unauthorized access. At the top of this list should be ensuring that your website has SSL.
  • Only collect what you need. Only collect what’s required for each specific transaction on your app or website.
  • Build trust with transparency. Use your privacy policy to be open and honest about how you collect, use, store, and share customer data. Build trust by clearly and concisely communicating the steps your organization is taking to protect customer data and achieve and maintain data privacy.
  • Stay up to date with data privacy regulations. CAN-SPAM, CASL, GDPR, ePR, CCPA … it’s a lot to keep up with, but it’s more important than ever for your organization to take data privacy compliance seriously. Not doing so can result in potential fines and long-term damage to your brand reputation.
  • Maintain oversight of partners. If someone provides services on your behalf, you are responsible for how they collect and use your customer data. Ask your partners and vendors if their data is compliant and what protocols they have in place to ensure data privacy.
  • Give your customers control of their data choices. Make sure your website includes opt-in, opt-out, and data subject request mechanisms to allow users more control over their data and how it’s used.
  • Add privacy technology to your stack. Privacy management and marketing compliance technology platforms like OneTrust can help you operationalize privacy compliance with powerful automation tools and data privacy resources. 

For more tips on how to protect your personal data and advocate for data privacy for your organization, visit staysafeonline.org or join the conversation! Tune into the #DataPrivacyDay 2020 live stream starting at noon CST on January 28, 2020, to hear privacy experts discuss the global wave of regulations and what they mean for internet users and organizations around the world.


About Hillary Ferry

After launching her career at a firm in Los Angeles, Hillary’s family lured her back home to Des Moines as our digital marketing director. Outside of work you can find her coaching gymnastics. Reach out to her at hillaryf@2rm.com for help with digital strategy — or your cartwheel technique.