Data Privacy Day 2011: A Focus on Online Privacy and Security

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Did you know that Friday, January 28 is World Data Privacy Day?

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If you didn’t know it, don’t tell the hard-working people behind the fourth-annual global event dedicated to fostering discussion about privacy protection in our digital age.

After all, as the organizers will point out, privacy and security have become a central part of our new digital reality. In just the past month, the newly crowned Miss America answered a question about national security and WikiLeaks, the Golden Globe for Best Picture went to The Social Network, and Mark Zuckerberg and Julian Assange became Time Magazine’s Person of the Year and runner-up, respectively.

So in their effort to raise awareness and generate discussion about data privacy and protection, the organizers are promoting Data Privacy Day in 27 European Union countries, Canada, and the United States.

Among the many events in Europe, highlights include a documentary screening in Budapest (Don’t Let Them Know All About You) to @Recyclart privacy dance party in Brussels (a “Dance to show everyone that privacy is not dead but still very much alive…with several artistic installations that will confront guests with the privacy implications and show the impact of new surveillance technologies in society.”)

U.S. Events

Among the many events already held this week, here are other events playing out across the United States tomorrow to honor privacy:

  • Washington, DC. The public is invited to Google’s Washington, D.C., office for a light breakfast and panel discussion about how privacy affects technology and vice-versa. Speakers include moderator Kim Hart, a Politico reporter, as well as Peter Eckersley, senior staff technologist, Electronic Frontier Foundation; Ed Felten, chief technologist, Federal Trade Commission; Ari Schwartz, senior Internet policy adviser, National Institute of Standards and Technology; and Alma Whitten, director of privacy, product and engineering. Starts at 9 am 1101 New York Ave, NW.
  • North Carolina. The Carolina Privacy Officials Network symposium will feature panel discussions regarding virtual relationships, virtual business, and virtual privacy. The event will be hosted by Quintiles, and will include lunch, followed by an afternoon reception and a screening of Erasing David, a documentary that raises issues of privacy and identity in the context of a real-life thriller. From 10:30 am to 4:30 pm, 4820 Emperor Blvd., P2 Level, Durham, NC.
  • New York. The Institute for Information Law & Policy at New York Law School is planning “Whose Data Is It Anyway?” modeled off of the British television show Whose Line is it Anyway? The game portion of the event will be followed by a Q&A. From 2:30 – 5pm, Events Center W201, New York Law School.

Consumer Information

Long after the parties are over and the meetings adjourned, perhaps the broader initiative is to encourage consumers to learn more about how to “take back” and ensure their privacy rights within an open and free Internet.

The Center for Democracy and Technology says the goal of its campaign is to get comprehensive privacy legislation passed and to share privacy tips with as many people as possible.

What are you planning to do to help spread the word about online privacy? Will you attend any of the events listed above? If you want to get involved on a more committed, ongoing level, join The Privacy Projects to sponsor an event or an activity, engage in the discussions, or plan your own event for Data Privacy Day 2012.

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Elaine Rigoli

Elaine Rigoli is PRIVATE WiFi's manager of digital content strategy.