It’s not often that governments, corporations, academic institutions, and private individuals across the globe all agree on something: Our privacy is under assault and we all need to act. That’s why the Council of Europe created Data Protection Day in 2006. It’s celebrated every year on January 28th (the US started recognizing its own Data Privacy Day in 2009), and aims to raise awareness for data protection and the rights of the individual, and promote good data privacy practices.
This is essentially our annual wake-up call. We’re all guilty of sleep-walking our way through the digital streets of our lives, click by click. Do we truly understand what’s going on and the risks involved every time we fire up our laptop, switch on our smartphone, post that silly pic, or click on a link?
Every click launches an international chain of events as companies, advertisers, and even cybercriminals leap into action—intercepting us, matching us, profiling us… We’re relentlessly mined for data and every move we make is captured. Data is money and there’s a huge sum on each of our virtual “heads.” What? You don’t like being a commodity? Remember Facebook and Cambridge Analytica? Such data breaches and invasions of privacy aren’t a rare violation anymore—they’re the new norm.
Privacy also impacts freedom of speech
Beyond reminding us to take protective measures, the day is a reminder of what’s at stake—and what we’ve already lost. Watch Dr Gabriela Zanfir Fortuna, Senior Counsel at the Future of Privacy Forum, give chilling insight into life in a totalitarian regime, and how a loss of our individual privacy impacts our freedom to express ourselves. In a world where everybody is listening, and even watching, self-censorship is inevitable.
Drunken tweet? It’s not just your neighbour who hears you anymore, but potentially an audience of billions. And it’s out there forever. Employees have been fired for private posts—depending on their social media security settings—that can be read by outraged employers. You have a choice: Keep quiet. Speak carefully. Or take constant measures to safeguard your privacy and right to express yourself.
Privacy and security must work together
Michelle Dennedy, SEO of DrumWave, reminds us that security and privacy are perfect bedfellows—but not the same! They’re both vital to protecting data, identities, and entire reputations. “Security protects the perimeter. Privacy is the content within.” If you’re keeping the bad guys out but not controlling who sees your content, and whether it’s shared securely, then privacy and security are not working together. In fact, you’re putting both at risk.
We all need continuous education about the risks of the technology we use and the choices we have. Is privacy already dead, even despite our sophisticated security? It doesn’t have to be, but it’s a challenge now and not a right.
Use these best practices to stay safe:
- Want to surf anonymously and free from any third parties trying to track you? A VPN like Avira Phantom VPN is essential, especially when connecting to unsecured WiFi networks.
- Password123? Avoid using weak or repeated passwords. Choose a Password Manager to generate highly secure ones in seconds. It even remembers them all for you.
- Prevent companies from tracking you and block targeted ads with a free discreet browser add-on like Avira Safe Shopping.
- Love Facebook and co? You need to regularly check the security settings of all social media accounts. Sadly, you can’t even trust your own PC! It can send private data to Microsoft and other software vendors. Did you know that Microsoft also tracks your location? Luckily, you can optimize your privacy automatically. Try a quick fix like Avira Privacy Pal.
Avira’s commitment to keeping you safe, every day
As a cybersecurity and privacy leader with a 30-year history, Avira is proud to embody the values of Data Protection Day all year round.
Did you know that we were the original pioneers of the freemium software business model? That’s right—we make market-leading products available to everyone for free, because we believe that security and privacy are a right and not a privilege. See Avira CEO Travis Witteveen discuss privacy in this video here: