Data Protection Day 2022

Data Protection Day 2022

data protection

Data Protection Day marks a global event that occurs every 28 January to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. This date corresponds to the anniversary of the opening for signature in 1981 of the Council of Europe's Convention 108 for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data. It is the first legally binding international law in the field of data protection and served as a model for many other data protection legislations, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which builds on the principles of Convention 108. This Convention has been for over 40 years a cornerstone of data protection in Europe and beyond. Its modernised version, known as Convention 108+ will continue being so and serve as a reference point to many who put data protection at the centre of their initiatives.

Data protection issues are central in citizens’ lives - at work, in the health field, when they surf the internet, travel, when they buy goods or services, in their relations with public authorities, etc. Indeed data is becoming increasingly important for our economy and for our daily lives. As such, it is important to make well informed decisions when sharing personal data. The same applies for downloading an application when the data subject is often required to give the owner access to information in order to use it. Consumers are nowadays being asked to submit more of their personal data into digital services. Indeed the amount of data processed and technological developments over the past years have increased drastically and so have the challenges of data protection to the extent that the line between our offline and online lives is blurred. This increased dependence on digital technologies to manage a big chunk of our life necessitates the need to rethink what we share about ourselves, when and where we share it, and who we are sharing it with. Data Protection Day underlines the importance of valuing and protecting personal information and provides an opportunity to think about one’s privacy, internet security and measures one can take to safeguard personal information. It is also understood that on this day, parents are also encouraged to educate their children on how to act online in a safe manner in order to protect themselves and their personal data.

The aim of Data Protection Day is to inform, empower and educate the public at large as to the day-to-day rights insofar as data protection is concerned, and thus making data protection a priority; to inspire people to take action to better protect their personal information online, especially on social media. Understanding how a company collects and uses personal data is an essential part of protecting oneself from getting caught in the middle of a data breach precisely to give individuals the chance to understand what personal data about them is processed, the purpose for such processing and their rights in this regard. The General Data Protection Regulation, in its Chapter 3 records and outlines these rights as the ‘Rights of the Data Subject’.

These rights effect how data controllers can collect, store and use personal data in that they are duty bound to let data subjects know how they can exercise such rights and ensure mechanisms are in place to promptly act and respond to requests under these rights. Most importantly, they empower data subjects to retain control over their personal data.

In terms of the above rights, all data controllers, from simple computer users to multinational corporations, need to be aware of the personal data others have entrusted to them and remain vigilant and proactive about protecting it. They necessarily have to ensure that their customers’ data is protected at all times and kept in accordance with current regulations.

Keeping the above overview in mind, data protection day is important for both businesses and consumers alike as it spreads awareness on the risks related with the processing of personal data and the rights in this respect. It provides an opportunity for the former to reflect on its operational practices and serves as a catalyst to employ the highest possible standard of data protection. On the other hand, it reminds the latter of the significance and implications of the use of their personal information in today’s world. Ultimately, it is vital for customers to be ensured robust practices and safeguards by businesses when it comes to handling of personal data. Hence the importance of Data Protection Day.

Given the cross-border dimension of data protection issues, the Information and Data Protection Commissioner joins the other Data Protection authorities in Europe and around the world to celebrate Data Protection Day. Indeed Data Protection Day is a global effort. It is an occasion to generate and raise awareness on the right to privacy and data protection best practices and to remind organisations that privacy is good for business. It offers an excellent occasion to show and understand how necessary privacy protection is in a democratic society.

Article by Ingrid Camilleri

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