Raising awareness of data protection

Data Protection Day (or Data Privacy Day, as it is known outside of Europe) is a global, annual celebration marking the anniversary of the signing of the Council of Europe's Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection, on 28 January 1981. In line with this, in April 2006, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe launched Data Protection Day, celebrated ever since on 28 January.

The protection of data has grown in importance in recent years, especially since so many services have transferred to the digital sphere. From children to adults connecting with online services, users deal - sometimes on a daily basis - with requests to provide their data in order to benefit from audiovisual content, apps or purchases. When asked to give consent, and agree to ‘Terms & Conditions', users are just a click away from sharing their data; sometimes it's not clear what the act of sharing data actually entails and how far the consent users give extend. Keeping up with these developments, various initiatives seek to raise awareness on both consumer and legislative levels, with some taking place all year round, while others particularly focus their actions on Data Protection Day.

At an EU level, European legislation is keeping pace with the speed at which IT-based services are developing and evolving. In recent years, the European Commission launched a major modernisation process of the data protection framework which culminated in the adoption of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2016. Likewise, there is now a EU focus on a Proposal for an ePrivacy Regulation which resulted in a draft regulation being adopted on 10 January 2017.

On the eve of the Data Protection Day 2017, the Computers, Privacy & Data Protection (CPDP) international conference will take place in Brussels from 25-27 January 2017, under the theme of "The Age of Intelligent Machines". During one of the CPDP sessions, entitled "Generation zero - data & digital marketing protections for children and teens under the GDPR, COPPA and the new FCC privacy rules", the Insafe Network Coordinator, Hans Martens, will contribute to the panel discussion on data privacy and the protection of children, as depicted through the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) line of work.

On the other side of the Atlantic, the National Cyber Security Alliance (NCSA) in the United States leads on Data Privacy Day (DPD) actions. "As our world becomes more connected, it's increasingly important to take steps to protect your personal information and help everyone be #PrivacyAware" stated NCSA in its Stay Safe Online campaign calling for Data Privacy Day Champions. Champions represent those dedicated to respecting privacy, safeguarding data and enabling trust. Supporting this initiative, the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres (SICs) is registered as a champion, representing the work done across Europe for a better internet for kids. To find out more about NCSA events and actions, check their website.

Through the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) platform (and associated services), we routinely give visibility to data protection through a series of publications and resources. In March 2016 for example, we published a Better Internet for Kids Bulletin focusing on data protection, analysing the context set by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU, and commenting on how helping to create a better internet for kids will largely depend on how this EU regulatory framework is implemented (and enforced) across EU Member States.

Furthermore, Safer Internet Centres have long been active in providing resources regarding the use of data on the internet, often with a particular focus on how data is collected from users and how it may be subsequently used. Some examples include:

  • Austria: Data protection: How to protect one's privacy on Instagram and Snapchat... with step-by-step privacy guidelines.
  • Denmark: Debating data protection with Danish adolescents.
  • Finland: Digital Gold Miners.
  • Greece: Is it true that the data we post online remains on the web forever?
  • Hungary: Data protection among children and young adults.
  • Luxembourg: That data, actually OUR data, in the Cloud.
  • UK: Helping schools with data protection compliance.

To search for more Safer Internet Centre resources, visit the Resource and video galleries on the Better Internet for Kids portal.

In addition to its work in Europe, the Insafe network of Safer Internet Centres regularly promotes its work on online safety on an international scale also, with one concrete example being the Internet Governance Forum (IGF) 2016 in Guadalajara, Mexico. At the event, Insafe organised a workshop (WS 114) titled "Is personal data ‘mine' or there to be ‘mined'?" – read more on the network's involvement at IGF more generally here.


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