Data Privacy Day 2010: Do You Know Where Is Your Data?
January 28 is International Data Privacy Day. This is an annual observance to raise awareness and generate discussion about information privacy issues. The event is currently observed in the United States, Canada, and 27 European countries. Private companies, libraries, colleges and universities, and other nonprofit organizations observe the event with various activities. This post today is a small way for us to highlight this event and provide our readers with some information and resources on this important topic. Why is the issue of online data privacy important? If you use a social networking site like Facebook or MySpace, or even use a web-based e-mail service like Gmail or Yahoo!, then you should be concerned. Many sites and online services collect a broad range of information about you, your location, your online activities, etc. Those sites do not always practice good privacy measures to protect their users. In fact, some sites would simply prefer if you did not worry about your privacy at all. For instance, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, recently said that "privacy is no longer a social norm." He claims that with the rise of social networking there is no expectation of privacy. There are many experts and consumer advocates who strongly disagree. Thus, at the end of the day, you, the user of online services, have to be proactive in protecting your online privacy. Keep in mind that everything yo do online leaves a trail that others can find. You should be asking the following questions:
- Who is collecting your personal data?
- How are they using your personal data?
- With whom are they sharing your personal data?
- How can you protect your personal information?
- I linked above to the Privacy Day website. This is a project of The Privacy Projects, a privacy and technology think tank. If you go to the Privacy Day website under the "Education and Resources" tab, you will find various links of interest.
- Doug Cornelius, known as the blogger Geek Dad featured in Wired Magazine, has an article on Privacy Day with links and tips for protecting your data. He reminds us of the importance of having good strong passwords for our online services.
- Via the Sophos website, here are some recommendations for Facebook settings. For example, think if you accept friends you may not know in real life. Or what about when someone tags you in a photo in Facebook. While you cannot totally hide everything, there are some things you can do to maintain some control over your information.
- The Electronic Frontier Foundation is a civil liberties organization dedicated to defending your rights in the digital world. As a blogger, I find their work and resources extremely useful in my work. They also offer a large section on privacy issues.
- The Northern California Chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has created the "Demand Your dotRights" Campaign. This educational website provides video and resources so you can learn who is finding your information and what they may be doing with it as well as tips to better control your online privacy. Do you like taking little quizzes on Facebook and posting the results on your wall? You can take the "What do Facebook Quizzes Know About You Quiz?" and learn what information you give up to Facebook and quiz developers when you take one of those quizzes.
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has an educational site entitled "You are here." This site, set up as a little virtual mall, educates not only about online privacy, but it also teaches about advertising scams, and more. It is geared to younger users, but I think readers here may find it useful as well. (A hat tip to Geek Dad on this one).
- Indiana University is hosting a full day of activities and events for Data Privacy Day. You can go over to the site to see what they are doing. If you miss the sessions, they are recording them so people can watch them at a later date. The site also offers a series of links to various resources.
- Microsoft also has a page of resources for Privacy Day. They include some information on research about your reputation online. Why is this research important? Let me ask you something different. Are you looking for a job now or planning to look for a job soon? If you are, did you know that hiring managers use online searching to find information about you, and they use that information to make their hiring decisions? That risque photo of you at some party could cost you a job opportunity, and you may not even know it.
- CISCO has a series of online safety tips for Data Privacy Day.
- And here is an account of what Mark Zuckerberg actually said about privacy as a social norm, via The Guardian.