Over a decade has passed since the first Data Privacy Day was celebrated in the U.S. and Canada, commemorating the first binding international law concerning individuals’ rights to protection of their personal information. Why should this matter to you? Observing Data Privacy Day helps heighten our awareness of the various ways that we can protect our privacy and control our digital footprint. Your digital footprint is essentially the “trail” you leave behind as you use the Internet. Social media, shopping, email usage - even your choice of device - are a few components that contribute in building your digital footprint, which essentially paints a picture of who you are by using your online activities.
So now that you’re aware of your digital footprint, it’s time to think about what you actually want people to see when they are tracking your trail on the Web. I think we can all agree that we don’t want all our personal information to be public knowledge, right? The National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) has some great information for everyone to use to help protect their personal data. One that I find very useful is this page: https://staysafeonline.org/stay-safe-online/managing-your-privacy/manage-privacy-settings/ . This page puts together a lot of well-known websites and services people use, and provides direct links to manage your privacy settings on each one. Another great website to get started with is https://www.stopthinkconnect.org/ . This site gives a plethora of helpful information and tips on protecting yourself online. They broach subjects such as: keeping a “clean” machine, protecting your personal information, connecting with care, being web-wise, being a good online citizen, and owning your online presence. They also have tools to help parents trying to help their children stay safe online, advice for teenagers who are starting to put more information out there, and some really great advice for aging adults to help keep all they’ve worked for and earned in life safe.
So, this year on Data Privacy Day, do your part to own your personal data. Put this day on your calendar as a reminder to check the settings on your online accounts and devices. Understand, that every time you click “Yes” on a user agreement, you are agreeing to give up some of your information for use of that service. And, for your own good, stop and think every time you connect.