The world has changed since creation of National Data Privacy Day

Ten years ago, shortly after the first smart phone was introduced, the United States began celebrating National Data Privacy Day on January 28th as a way to raise awareness about privacy in the digital age.

The move foreshadowed sweeping change. Internet-connected smart phones were only the first step in a cascade of new information technologies that have reshaped our world.

It wasn’t long before automobiles, televisions, game consoles, wristwatches, and even children’s toys were also connected to the internet. Almost every object we interact with in our lives is now either online, or has the potential to be connected.

While this has made our society more efficient and convenient, the technology also has spread our personal information across the internet at an exponential pace — a boon to data brokers who package and sell this information, and to criminals who use it for identity theft.

The 10th anniversary of National Data Privacy Day is a good opportunity for everyone to reflect on the sweeping technological changes around us, and take steps to protect your privacy.

Keeping your personal information private not only means securing your data at home, but also being proactive about controlling the type of information that other organizations collect about you.

For example, if you provide personally identifiable information — such as name, address and social security number — to any organization, it’s critical to read their privacy policies to determine if they share or sell that information to others.

Organizations that honor your privacy should follow a set of principles, including:

  • Not collecting more information than they need.
  • Telling you how it will be used.
  • Destroying the information when it’s no longer needed.
  • Not sharing your information with others without your permission, except as required by law.
  • Allowing you to review and correct information if necessary.

Protecting privacy is also a personal responsibility.

Many people, for example, post information about themselves, their friends, and family, on social media. This raises concerns not only about access to your own personal information, but also the information you may post about others.

Please visit our website at cybersecurity.wa.gov to read articles about data brokers and their use of personal information. You can also see our tips on how to secure your home network and how to stay safe online. The Washington State Office of Privacy and Data Protection also has guides and tips on how to protect your privacy.

Sincerely,

Agnes Kirk, Washington State Chief Information Security Officer

Ph: 1.888.241.7597 or cybersecurity@ocs.wa.gov