What is Data Privacy Day and how can you celebrate it?

  • by Matt Davis
  • · posted on January 25, 2023
  • · 4 min read
What is Data Privacy Day and how can you celebrate it?

If there’s a day to celebrate eating McDonalds (Fast Food Day, November 16th) and a day to celebrate wax-coated sugar candies (Jelly Bean Day, April 22nd), then data privacy certainly deserves its own day of celebration. On January 28th, we have the opportunity to celebrate this essential subject, which seems to touch on so many hot-button issues in our society.

Fast Food Day and Jelly Bean Day may be a bit more straightforward in terms of appropriate observation—just grab a hamburger or a fistful of jelly beans and you’re honoring the day. What do you need to know about Data Privacy Day and how do you celebrate it?

What is Data Privacy Day?

Originally, Data Privacy Day was conceived of to celebrate the first legally binding international data privacy treaty, succinctly titled the “Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data.” Known as Convention 108 for short, the Council of Europe signed this treaty on January 28th, 1981. 1981 might seem early for a data privacy law, but it just goes to show that people have always taken their right to privacy seriously, even from the very start when data processing was mainly an analog process and the internet was very much in its infancy.

Over the years, Europe updated Convention 108 to match new realities in personal data collection and processing. New data privacy laws were created, such as the Data Protection Directive. To enshrine the importance of citizens’ right to privacy, the Council of Europe initiated Data Privacy Day in 2007. Two years later, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate both voted to recognize January 28th as Data Privacy Day. Roughly seven years later, the EU would pass the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), kicking off the new era of data privacy that we live in today.

As the digital landscape and the laws that inform data privacy developed and evolved, Data Privacy Day has come to mean quite a lot more than just a celebration of a dry international treaty. 

Today, Data Privacy Day symbolizes the growing expanse of regulation, the multitude of ways that consumer data is collected, the struggle to keep one’s personal life truly private in the digital age, and the constant negotiation and renegotiation of just exactly where the line is when it comes to acceptable data collection and use.

When is Data Privacy Day?

January 28th! It’s the anniversary of the first international treaty on data privacy, Convention 108.

Why is Data Privacy Day important?

Data Privacy Day is important because data privacy is important.

Your data is:

  • Valuable; altogether, tracking consumers’ activities and collecting their personal data contributes to a $227 billion industry.
  • Sought-after; publishers that don’t or can’t use your personal data for personalized advertising earn 70% less revenue than competitors who do and can.
  • Collected whenever possible; Google’s tracking technology is found on 80% of all websites and 85% of all apps on the play store. Facebook’s trackers cover 50% of all websites. And that doesn’t even account for the small galaxy of tracking technologies from other actors on the internet.

Often, all of this revenue generation, collection, processing, and targeting takes place without consumers’ say-so or consent. Or at least, that would be the case without the protection of data privacy regulations like the GDPR or CPRA

Data privacy matters for businesses as well—in many ways, it’s not possible to build a website or an app without collecting user data. Taking the time to think deeply about data privacy issues and understand your responsibilities under data privacy laws is essential to treating your customers and their rights with respect.

It’s not just customers and business owners that need to care about data privacy; these days, employees also have data privacy rights and responsibilities. More and more laws are requiring employers to treat their employees’ personal information carefully and to acknowledge and act on their requests regarding that data. HR professionals, general counsels, and the employee base at large need to understand these rights and responsibilities. 

What better time to dive into your privacy education than on Data Privacy Day?

How can you celebrate Data Privacy Day?

As we alluded to above, the best way to celebrate Data Privacy Day is to become educated on the biggest issues in privacy affecting yourself and your community. Whether you’re a consumer, employee, or employer, privacy issues are affecting you. Here are some key resources to get started:

Osano certainly isn’t the only member of the data privacy community celebrating Data Privacy Day. The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) also has a page on Data Privacy Day that’s worth reviewing. There, you can look up local events, learn more about data privacy, and get some digital Data Privacy Day swag.

Lastly, you can celebrate Data Privacy Day by remaining plugged into the world of data privacy year-round—after all, the digital landscape is constantly changing both in terms of how data collection and processing occurs and how data privacy is regulated. Stay in the loop by subscribing to the Osano newsletter.

Happy Data Privacy Day!

Matt Davis

About The Author · Matt Davis

Matt Davis is a writer at Osano, where he researches and writes about the latest in technology, legislation, and business to spread awareness about the most pressing issues in privacy today. When he’s not writing about data privacy, Matt spends his time exploring Vermont with his dog, Harper; playing piano; and writing short fiction.