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Data Privacy Takes Center Stage

Today is Data Privacy Day. When I first learned of this annual event some years back, I was early in my personal quest to raise marketers’ awareness of and interest in data privacy. As a long time marketer, but also a consumer and user of things digital, I was personally concerned about the continual tracking of my data. It seemed like we were starting down a slippery slope. Back then, my evangelizing largely fell on deaf (or defensive) ears.

Fast forward and we see a radically different situation. The major new legislation like the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), with more on the table worldwide, combined with growing consumer sentiment about misuse of personal data and compounded by rampant breaches, now make better data privacy management a competitive necessity. So much so that earlier this month, in a nod to announcements made by the FAANG companies (Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google) and others, CNN Business stated that “the hottest product at this year’s CES technology conference may just be privacy.”

The heightened attention is great, but translating it into action takes more. Consumers still struggle with or ignore lengthy, legally complex privacy policies. People still over-share on social media. And many express a kind of fatalistic view that they don’t have any privacy anyway so what does it matter. Well, it still matters. A lot. Think about identity theft, for starters.

Even with significant updates to legislation and awareness, the momentum toward a better balance will only continue if consumers and governments demand it. That includes action well beyond marketing practices to protect the myriad ways personally identifiable information (PII) is collected and managed.

It’s not to say we will or should ever go back to a less connected, less innovative world. But as AI, which completely depends on Big Data, gains ever more traction, the time is now to make sure that progress happens in a way that still informs and respects the individual.

Data Privacy Day is a great reminder of the agency we already can have over our data. This year’s theme is rather pointed and provocative, but rings ever more true: “Personal information is like money. Value it. Protect it.”

Today and throughout the month, there are many events to attend or stream. There are interesting discussions, Twitter chats, debates, and lots of blogs and articles to read. Many can be found using a simple online search for “Data Privacy Day 2020.” You can also check out organizations such as the Cyber Security and Information Systems Information Analysis Center, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, Stay Safe Online, and the International Association of Privacy Professionals, along with many corporations, for helpful ‘how-to’ tips and tools. Taking just ten minutes to review some of this rich content may provide one or two new insights that will help consumers and businesses strengthen their privacy posture.

At W2 Communications, we’re proud to work with some top notch companies that actively work to protect data privacy and security all year long. We’re committed to spreading the true message that good privacy is good for business and for users. This Data Privacy Day, we invite and encourage the ecosystem of innovators and those who benefit from that innovation to take positive action that will make the always-on world a respectful and safer place for all.