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Celebrating Data Privacy Day: January 28.

Take part in Data Privacy Day 2021 and learn how to control your personal data.


Guest author Howard Poston By Howard Poston| January 22 2021

Data Privacy Day logo with background image of the globe at night, highlighting areas of electrical and data activity.

Data Privacy Day is an international holiday designed to raise awareness of personal data privacy. It is celebrated in fifty countries (called Data Protection Day in Europe).


How to Celebrate Data Privacy Day

Data Privacy Day isn’t the kind of holiday that is celebrated with presents, barbeques, or a big parade. The best way to celebrate this holiday is to take some steps to improve your own data privacy. Here are some suggestions on what to do this January 28th (or any day of the year).


Learn the Value of Your Data

This year’s Data Privacy Day focus of the value of user data. Many people think that “I don’t have anything that cybercriminals would want”. However, this isn’t actually the case. Your personal data has a lot of value to both cybercriminals and companies that make their money off of selling your data (like Facebook, Google, and other tech companies). To get a feel for what your data is actually worth, check out this blog.


Review Your Privacy Settings

Social media sites, smartphones, and other websites undergo frequent updates. Often, these updates involve the introduction of new privacy settings, which are often set to default settings that favor the company (i.e. allowing data collection).

This means that, even if you’ve set your privacy settings in the past, they might not still be set the way that you want them to be. Data Privacy Day is a great opportunity to take a few minutes to look through the Privacy Settings on social media and your mobile devices to ensure that you’re comfortable with the data that they’re collecting and how they’re using it.

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Check App Permissions

Both iOS and Android limit applications’ access to certain functionality on the phone. This covers a wide range of things from access to the microphone and camera to the use of the file system.

In the past, app permissions were all or nothing: you could either accept all of the requested permissions or not install the app. Now, permissions can be granted or denied individually or set to ask permission on a case-by-case basis.

Like social media privacy settings, it’s worth taking a moment to review your app permissions this Data Privacy Day. You might find that some app that you downloaded without thinking about it is actually collecting data that you’re not comfortable with sharing.


Improve Your Password Security

Personal privacy and data security are intertwined. If someone can log into your account because they’ve guessed your password or its been exposed in a breach, then your personal privacy is definitely in jeopardy.

One step to help mitigate this threat is checking if you have been the victim of a data breach. Visit HaveIBeenPwned to see if you’ve been exposed by a potential breach. You can also configure Firefox to inform you if a breach of your data has been detected.

Beyond checking your breach exposure, think about your password security. If you’re using weak passwords or reusing them across multiple sites, then you might be putting your personal data at risk. Using a password manager to generate, store, and autofill strong passwords is a great way to balance security and usability online.


Secure Your Sensitive Documents

You likely have some sort of sensitive information stored on your computer. We recently published a blog on file encryption that outlined how data and files that you think are harmless might be putting your personal data at risk. Take a look and think about using a file encryption solution to improve your personal data privacy.


Understand Your Digital Privacy Rights

Data Privacy Day was inspired by the passage of data protection legislation, and the regulatory landscape has been moving rapidly in recent years. New laws like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) provide a number of different rights to consumers regarding their personal privacy.

Currently, California, Maine, and Nevada are the only US states that have a new privacy law in place and - due to the legislative calendar - many of the existing bills from last year have “died in committee”. However, if you live somewhere covered by a new privacy law, it might be worth looking up your rights so that you know them if you need them.


Taking Control of Your Online Privacy

In the past, many organizations could do whatever they wanted with their customers’ data. However, in recent years, significant efforts have been made to place control of personal data back in the hands of the data owner. This Data Privacy Day, take at least one step toward gaining better control over your online data and privacy.




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Guest author Howard Poston is a cybersecurity and blockchain security consultant and trainer. You can reach Howard at howard.poston@gmail.com