Data Privacy Day Aims to Increase Awareness of Privacy Issues

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Did you know today is Data Privacy Day? Until a coworker pointed it out, I didn't either. Now in its third year, Data Privacy Day is recognized by the U.S., Canada, and 27 European countries in an effort to "raise awareness and generate discussion about data privacy and protection."


The organizers' goals include educating teens and young adults about the privacy issues raised by social networking, cell phones, and other mobile devices, encouraging compliance with privacy laws and "stimulating the development of technology tools that promote individual control over personally identifiable information."


Individuals, students, teachers, schools, government entities, corporations and privacy organizations have participated in Privacy Day events in the past, according to the Web site. Last year, members of the U.S. Congress passed resolutions declaring Jan. 28, 2009, National Data Privacy Day.


In honor of Data Privacy Day, Microsoft released the results of a study which found that 79 percent of respondents (hiring managers and job recruiters in the U.S.) review information that has been published online about potential candidates. Moreover, 70 percent admitted they have rejected applicants based on information they found online.


In an InformationWeek piece on the study results, Microsoft's chief privacy strategist, Peter Cullen, says, "We're really surprised by the results." Writer Thomas Claburn then points to a blog post in which Cullen indicated that while 63 percent of consumers expressed concern regarding how their online activity impacts their reputations, less than half say they think about their reputations when they are posting information online.


So though most of us say we want privacy, not as many of us act like it. Changing those statistics is what Data Privacy Day is all about.