Also known as Data Protection Day in Europe, Data Privacy Day is a global thing. However, unlike National Talk Like a Pirate Day or International Donut Day, Data Privacy Day takes notice of an increasingly urgent reality, the erosion of our most often ignored human right: the right to privacy.
While Data Privacy Day only dates back to 2007, it is only in recent years that it has been getting much attention. The prime reason for this bad news. We have hit a privacy tipping point. The knowledge that both private enterprise and even political regimes around the world have chipped away at this right for years (in the name of convenience, security respectively and sometimes darker purposes), is now accepted fact and not conspiracy among the majority of us.
The awareness came about as a result of the increasing use of privacy intrusive technologies like facial recognition (implemented all over China as well as in U.S. airports, smartphones) and because of what Facebook, Google and other global tech service giants do with the personal data they glean from our searches, messages, posts, emails, etc. There are countless prompts for why this day matters.
Bottom line: We are all coming to understand just how much of an issue the right to privacy really is. This increasing awareness is cross generational. While there are different age perspectives for sure, similar concerns around privacy and personal data use span generations, impacting Boomers, Gen-Xers, Millennials, Gen-Z, and even the coming of age Generation Alpha. The increase in the capture, use and misuse of our personal and private information is increasingly understood by all.
Another first, we see the concept of national privacy regulations spreading outside of Europe and North America. When you look to developing regions like South America, Africa, the Middle East, or Asia the same concepts and concerns around the use of personal information, and who has access to data matters. Privacy as a core value at a national level around the world is becoming the new normal.
This is especially true in democratic societies, whether the democracy is a well established one or a newly minted one. The proliferation of statutes like the GDPR and CCPA are spreading around the globe and the expectation that they will be enacted reaching critical mass.
We have come a long way globally when it comes to trying to get our heads around how we wish to have our personal data treated. More importantly, we are starting to think about these protections and what they will and should mean to future generations.
As we celebrate the first Data Privacy Day of the new decade, I propose that we make the move from relegating Data Privacy Day from the same rubric system that gave rise to International Cat Day and Fortune Cookie Day (September 13th) and make it the more like Flag day or Constitution day.