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Data Privacy Day: Why It Is Important To Be Aware Of Privacy Online

"data privacy" by stockcatalog is licensed under CC BY 2.0
"data privacy" by stockcatalog is licensed under CC BY 2.0

The Data Privacy Day is celebrated internationally every 28th of January. It aims to raise awareness about how organizations and individuals can respect privacy, safeguard data, and enable trust.

With our digital culture nowadays, we leave a large footprint of our valuable information on the sites we visit and the apps we use every day. A growing number of people are unaware or uninformed about how their personal data is being collected, shared, sold, and even used against them.

Over the past decade, our personal information has become a source of income and influence for many bad actors. Some have even used the opportunity to harness unprotected user data to make a living.

What is Data Privacy?

Privacy is the fundamental right of an individual to protect their dignity and to be free from uninvited surveillance. It helps us establish boundaries to limit who has access to our bodies, information, spaces, and communications. Living in a digital society, it is our democratic right to safely exist within those boundaries and freely express one’s opinions behind closed doors.

“Privacy is the fundamental right of an individual to protect their dignity and to be free from uninvited surveillance.”

Privacy also applies to our personal data. However, the right to privacy has increasingly been put at risk in the digital age. Our personal data and online behaviour are routinely collected or harvested by commercial entities and governments to accumulate loads of information. Data privacy incursions occur without our knowledge.

The European Union recognizes that “protection of personal data and respect for private life are important fundamental rights”.

On January 28, 2013, Privacy International, together with other prominent privacy and digital rights organisations, published the Brussels Privacy Declaration. Some of its key demands are listed below:

We expect the new European rules on data protection to ensure the following:

  • The protection of all personal information including identifiers of hard- and software
  • Recognition that every European citizen has the right to effectively control his or her personal information
  • Explicit, strong and informed consent for the processing of our personal data
  • Transparency of data processing and data sharing practices.

What Data Privacy Means For Businesses

If any business collects, processes, stores, or transfers the personal data of users, vendors, or consumers, they are likely to be subjected to several new data privacy laws and regulations, including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and/or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). These regulations have become a model for many national laws outside Europe and the US. These laws detail how organisations should safeguard personal data and how users can get protection and legal remedy, including the right to erasure.

Courtesy Stay Safe Online

Data Privacy Laws in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia is the world’s fastest-growing Internet region with over 700 million active mobile connections and nearly four million new users coming online every month. An ASEAN Framework on Personal Data Protection was adopted in November 2016, setting principles and guidelines to promote and strengthen personal data protection in the region.

Different countries in Southeast Asia have different data protection laws. However, that didn’t prevent data theft in Singapore (of the addresses of 5,400 HIV-positive Singaporeans and 8,800 foreigners) or the data leak of one million students and alumni of Malaysian Univerity.

Laws alone cannot protect data privacy. There is a growing need to empower individual users by giving them the knowledge and skills necessary to protect themselves.

Here are some useful resources to be aware of your data privacy rights and how to protect yourself online:

Thanks for reading, and I wish you privacy and safety online not only on Data Privacy Day but every day!

About the Author

Rezwan Islam has long experience in citizen and social media. For over 15 years, he has been writing for local and international citizen media sites/blogs.