Data Protection Day highlights successes and failures

By William Smith
Happy Data Protection Day! Also known as Data Privacy Day in the US, Data Protection Day occurs every year on the date the Council of Europe signed Conv...

Happy Data Protection Day! Also known as Data Privacy Day in the US, Data Protection Day occurs every year on the date the Council of Europe signed Convention 108 in 1981, enshrining the right to privacy.

While obviously a concern in the 80s, since then the sheer volume of digitised, personal data has ballooned, leading the Council to institute Data Protection Day in 2006. In Europe, data security has continued to be on the top of the agenda, with the likes of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming in in 2018.

In a joint statement from Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Reynders in support of the day, the two emphasised this point, saying: “Data is becoming increasingly important for our economy and for our daily lives. With the roll-out of 5G and uptake of the Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things technologies, personal data will be in abundance and with potential uses we probably can't imagine. While this offers amazing opportunities, some cases show that robust rules are needed to address clear risks for individuals and for our democracies. In Europe we know that strong data protection rules are not a luxury, but a necessity.”

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Enterprise has a key role to play in this ongoing effort, as Margarete McGrath, Chief Digital Officer, Dell Technologies, explains: “Upwards of €114m of fines have been collected since GDPR was rolled out in May 2018. Keeping data secure and protected is a challenge for any organisation, especially as cloud environments evolve. [...] Data protection alongside data management can unlock opportunities for organisations to extract insight while creating value for your customers. Trust isn’t just about data compliance, it’s about how the data is managed, stored and protected.”

While work is being done to close the door on data, there is an equal sense that the horse has already bolted. Srinivasan CR, Chief Digital Officer, Tata Communications comments that “our impatient, always-connected brain [...] urges us to scroll through terms and conditions as quickly as physically possible so that we can access what’s on the other side. Effectively we are signing away our data ownership in a matter of seconds each time. And once that's gone, you can never get it back. Privacy is a Pandora’s Box in that sense. It’s easy to say that there should be more education among consumers, but ultimately so much of our data already sits within online services’ databases globally, it’s already nearly impossible for individuals to take back control of their digital profile.”

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