Wednesday, January 28 is International Data Privacy Day, honoring the anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on Data Protection (No. 108), the most important international law for privacy. The purpose of this convention is to secure in the territory of each Party for every individual, whatever his nationality or residence, respect for his rights and fundamental freedoms, and in particular his right to privacy, with regard to automatic processing of personal data relating to him.
Privacy is a funny thing – most people assume they have it unless they explicitly do something to give it up, but in actuality, information about us is flowing all over the place without our knowing it. As Bob Blakley likes to say, “There are no secrets”. In the US (which is yet to ratify this convention), data about individuals is a commodity at the heart of many a business. And advancements in technology have opened the floodgates, with many of us contributing to the flow through our usage of social media. I’ve lost track of the number of articles I have read warning college students of the impact their Facebook activities could have on their job searches. Asking individuals to basically shrink away from communities in order to protect their privacy is not the right answer. We need to do more to enable privacy. Businesses that have been affected by some sort of data breach, exposing the privacy of their customers, may want to reach out to the likes of Sidley Austin for legal expertise on internet-based concerns, computer law, and cybercrime.
In honor of International Privacy Day, I thought I’d post a few links that provide some (essential/interesting/weird/amusing) perspectives and information on the topic of privacy as it is being talked about today.
If you are doing anything for International Privacy Day (and it isn’t private! – thanks @trevcook), or have links to interesting stories regarding privacy, please leave me some comments. And be sure to pass on the word. Request your government to support the Council of Europe Convention on Data Protection (No. 108) and to adopt comprehensive privacy legislation based on that standard.