SF State Information Security Office Announces Jan. 28 is Data Privacy Day

Respect Privacy Review your organizations privacy policy this data privacy day Jan 28

Data Privacy Day is an international effort held annually on Jan. 28 to spread awareness about data privacy and educate individuals on how to secure their personal information. It also works to encourage businesses to respect privacy and be more transparent about how they collect, store and use data. This year, Data Privacy Day 2021, spotlights the value of information and how to “Own Your Privacy” and “Respect Privacy”.  Below are answers to address the most frequently asked questions about data privacy.

Who cares about privacy?

This may surprise some, but young people and young adults do. Despite conventional wisdom that young people don’t really care about privacy, surveys show that those between 13 and 35 years old do care about their privacy and the importance of maintaining control over their personal info. Here are some snapshots from an article in Vox, among the 18 – 29 year olds surveyed:

  • 74% had cleared cookies and browser histories
  • 71% had deleted or edited a post
  • 49% had adjusted their browser setting to reject cookies
  • 42% had refused to visit certain sites that wanted to use their real names

So, when it comes to caring about online privacy and taking steps to protect it, the stereotype that younger adults care less than older adults just isn’t accurate. That’s underscored by Cisco’s Consumer Privacy Survey that found 48% of those surveyed had switched away from companies because of data policies.

When it comes to your privacy, who do you trust?

Here are results from a recent survey of 1,000 respondents by McKinsey & Company. The survey asked people to rank the most trusted industries in protecting privacy and data:

  • Healthcare and Financial Services – 44%
  • Pharmaceuticals/medical – 22%
  • Retail – 18%
  • Technology – 17%
  • Public sector and government – 11%
  • Media and entertainment – 10%

Not surprising, healthcare and financial services had the highest ranking with government, media, and entertainment bringing up the rear. But overall, even trust for healthcare and financial services—the highest ranked industries— isn’t all that high. But where some might see a lack of trust, others will see opportunities. Organizations that demonstrate that they are trustworthy by handling and protecting their customer’s privacy and data carefully can stand out from their competition. It’s pretty simple, really. Nine out of ten people are more loyal to companies they trust.

Did I delete that data and is it gone for good?

So you highlight the name of a file and press the Delete key. That file is gone for good, right? Not necessarily. Most systems only remove the link to the file. It’s still there until another file is saved over the older “deleted” data.  Files that are never permanently deleted from old computers and devices are a gold mine for hackers. Using the latest data recovery technology, they can recover even the data and files you may have deleted. Here’s are some tips for making sure that “delete” really means delete.

  • Digital Data - Most organizations have policies and procedures in place for disposing of old computers and storage media. Make sure you follow them. Many PC recyclers offer data destruction services and will ensure that any disks, hard drives or other storage media has been destroyed in a way that won’t allow any data to be recovered by hackers or anyone else.
  • Smartphones - Your phone may have sensitive data even if you don’t store any data files on it. This sensitive data can include emails or text messages, pictures, voicemail, or documents left open in your browser. If it’s time to upgrade to a newer phone, don’t just get rid of your old one or drop it in a recycle bin. Some devices have a remote wipe feature in case they get lost or stolen. Use that to scrub your old phone before getting rid of it. Or you can use a data destruction service.
  • Cloud – Getting rid of data in your cloud accounts is more complicated. If, for example, you quit using an online service, data from your past usage is still stored by that provider. At a minimum, you should close your account, but you may also need to contact customer support to find out when closed accounts (and any data associated with that account) are permanently deleted.

What’s Personal Data Worth?

Short answer is a lot. Companies like Facebook, Google, Amazon and others routinely gather what they call “passive” data—not something we generate consciously—about our online habits: what we buy, websites we visit, our online searches, even the books we check out online from our local library. That’s all data— data about us—and it's valuable. To companies capturing passive personal data, it’s big business. The world produces 2.5 quintillion bytes of data each day, and 90% of all the data that has ever been produced in all of history happened in just the last two years. According to the European Commission, the value of personalized data in 2020 is nearly $1.2 trillion.

Mining personal data is a gold rush for many companies. But what does it mean for individuals? That’s harder to calculate. In 2015, Comcast paid $100 to each victim of a data breach. Victims had paid a fee to Comcast to keep their data privacy. By most accounts, this was a first because it actually valued an individual’s personal data that was hacked at $100.

So, what’s your data worth? There are examples of people auctioning their personal data on eBay and Craigslist. But maybe a better way to look at the value of personal data is to see it as the value of your personal privacy.  What would it cost you if someone hacked your accounts and stole your identity? What if they impersonated you on your social media accounts, alienating your friends and family? How much is your reputation worth? All of these are worth protecting and “valuing.” And perhaps that’s where we all can find the true value of our data.

Call to Action

Data privacy and protecting personal information is important to SF State.  One thing we encourage everyone to do is visit staysafeonline.org to check and update their privacy settings on all accounts. This is good practice to do at least once a year to make sure your privacy preferences have not drifted.  Also, feel free to review the SF State Privacy Policy to understand how important privacy is our University. 

For more information about Data Privacy Day, visit staysafeonline.org/data-privacy-day.

Friday, January 15, 2021