International Data Privacy Day is celebrated internationally on January 28 to raise awareness about online data protection and what can be done to safeguard privacy and increase trust. LinkedIn partnered with The National Cyber Security Alliance to host, Data Privacy Day 2020: A Vision for the Future, a series of panels to celebrate Data Privacy Day on Tuesday, January 28, 2020. Panelists discussed how the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has changed global privacy, the effects of privacy legislation in the United States, the importance of data privacy, and ways future laws can protect consumers’ data.
Gregory Smolynec, Deputy Commissioner, Policy and Promotion Sector, Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, provided the event’s opening remarks.
“No one owns privacy, no one owns this issue, that’s because it’s a shared value across democracies, one that makes our cities livable, one that makes our cultures vibrant,” Smolynec said. “It is instrumental to both liberty and democracy and it’s increasingly under threat.”
The event’s first two panels, “Privacy Across the Globe” and “CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and the Wake of Privacy Legislation in the United States,” discussed the recent implementation of legislation both globally and within the nation to regulate the use of online data. Panelists praised GDPR in the European Union for setting standards to protect online data and giving consumers the power to control their personal information. Although pieces of legislation like the GDPR provide a set of guidelines for companies to follow, the range of topics they cover are often vague and risk becoming outdated as technology evolves. The panelists had similar comments about CCPA and its impact. CCPA is currently the broadest data privacy law enacted by a U.S. state and went into effect on January 1, 2020. CCPA allows consumers to have greater control over how their data is used; however, the experts criticized its low baseline of consumer control. The experts warned that it will take time for changes in privacy law to take place and for companies to adopt them.
“[CCPA] will be a bellwether for all the other states to follow,” Tom Pendergast, Chief Learning Officer, MediaPRO, declared. “There’s so much more awareness about privacy laws and individuals’ rights and it should also create a groundswell in interest among consumers in seeing things happen in their state. It’s an instigator for this happening across the nation.”
The final panel, “Industry Perspectives: Going Beyond Privacy Compliance,” centered on the actions businesses and governments could take to protect consumer data. The panelists recognized that although laws and regulations are influential in changing the way companies use and handle data, many businesses are already acting to empower consumers. Companies understand the importance of building trust with consumers and are shaping their values to be more conscious about privacy. The panelists urged consumers to take an active approach when deciding which companies/platforms to share data with. The experts emphasized that it is everyone’s responsibility to think about, and be aware of, how privacy impacts our daily lives.
“In our digital world progress and prosperity depends on trust, but today in the face of a growing backlash against the technology industry, because of revelations about the misuse of personal data, trust hangs in the balance,” Julie Brill, Chief Privacy Officer, Microsoft, said. “[We must] recognize that privacy isn’t simply a human right, it is a foundational right on which all other human rights are built.”