Data Privacy Day Kick-Off Event Tackles the Big Privacy Issues


It was a cold, harsh day in Washington, DC, on Tuesday, January 28, but that didn’t stop more than 100 attendees from the privacy and technology sectors from gathering at the Pew Charitable Trusts for Data Privacy Day (DPD) 2014, sponsored by Stay Safe Online. As a first-time small business sponsor, PRIVATE WiFi wanted a good seat to hear from nearly a dozen thought leaders on their views on respecting privacy, safeguarding data, and enabling trust.

More than 5,600 people watched the live stream of the event on Facebook, but in case you missed it, here is a recap of the highlight themes of the day.

After opening remarks from National Cyber Security Alliance’s Executive Director Michael Kaiser, Jessica Rich, of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection delivered the keynote. “We would like to make every day DPD for consumers – and businesses, too,” Rich said, “but today’s privacy challenges are greater than they’ve ever been.” Discussing the FTC’s priorities for 2014, Rich hit upon the themes of big data collection practices and use, mobile technologies and connected devices, and protections of sensitive data.

The first panel discussed “Notice and Consent: Innovating a New Path Forward” which featured an all-star linData Privacy Day 2014eup of privacy executives. Moderated by Martin Abrams, executive director of the Information Accountability Foundation and a DPD advisory committee member; Susan Grant, director of consumer protection, Consumer Federation of America; David Hoffman, director of security policy and global privacy officer, Intel Corporation; and Brendon Lynch, chief privacy officer, Microsoft, tackled the subject of fair information practice principles (FIPPs), the foundation of data use policies by businesses and governments. Through this discussion of the appropriate and responsible use of data, Hoffman stated, “Distrust is the cancer that could kill the digital economy.”

Continuing the program, Mary Madden, a senior researcher at Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, sat down with Kaiser to discuss how attitudes and behaviors regarding online privacy have evolved, especially among teens and young adults. During her chat she revealed, “A lot of privacy harms are not visible and that’s a big problem.” According to her research, while only 1 in 10 adults had had a Social Security number or other personal identifiable information stolen, twice as many have had a compromised email or social networking account! The topic of public WiFi insecurity was broached during the audience answer portion. While Madden agreed that without protection, wireless hotspots are open and dangerous, little research has been done on the threats. Kaiser chimed in that this is one privacy area that will need more emphasis in coming DPDs (and we agree!).

The final panel of the event, “Respecting Consumer Privacy in a Big Data World,” was chaired by Dan Caprio, chair of the DPD advisory committee.

With the goal of improving ways that the public understands the collection of big data, the panel was comprised of a number of well-known entities from the privacy sphere: Stephen Cobb, senior security researcher, ESET North America; Erin Egan, chief privacy officer, Facebook; John Gevertz, global chief privacy officer, ADP, Inc. and Omer Tene, vice president of research and education, the International Association of Privacy Professionals.

Tackling some tough questions, Egan addressed the struggle, “How do we talk to people to ensure that they understand… all the ways data is being collected about them and used, so they can begin themselves to think about this tradeoff.” Further, the group discussed how with that knowledge, a user can then control the information and take action, which then leads to empowerment. “I think at the end of the day it’s individual empowerment that will be most important to advance privacy in a big data setting,” Tene said.

Overall the event addressed a myriad of concerns surrounding the issues of data privacy in our country and beyond. While the issues were debated, the fact that there is no one definitive answer when it comes to privacy was illuminated. If you want more details and insight from DPD, you can view the full video now.

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Jillian Ryan

Jillian Ryan is PRIVATE WiFi's Director, Brand Communications and Social Strategy. With a passion for writing, the web, and fast-paced information exchanged via social networks, Jillian is also concerned about the ramifications of putting your life details and personal data into cyberspace. Follow her on Twitter: @Writing_Jillian.

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