Happy 32nd birthday, Data Protection

Claire Walker

Today  is Data Protection Day and in the spirit of the occasion, Datonomy thought it would do its bit for privacy awareness.

For the uninitiated, Data Protection Day was initiated by the Council of Europe in 2006 to “celebrate the anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe’s Convention 108 for the Protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data”, which was in 1981, thus making the discipline of data protection a mature, but still relatively youthful, 32.

The Council of Europe’s website goes on “The aim of the Data Protection Day is to give everyone a chance to understand what personal data is collected and processed and why, and what our rights are with respect to this processing…Each interested member state, national or international body is encouraged to participate. The Data Protection Day is intended to be organised in a flexible and decentralised manner so as to cater for the wishes and resources of each participant.”

In the spirit of education, the UK ICO is, according to its very helpful press office, due to mark the day with various activities including initiatives to embed awareness of privacy rights in the primary and secondary school system. (The teenage children of this particular Datonomist will be delighted to learn that their personal information has value, particularly if that can be monetised…)

With privacy compliance now widely acknowledged as a board level issue, the Market Research Society is marking the day with the launch of its Fair Data kite mark endorsed by the ICO – see today’s coverage in the Telegraph.  According to the report, major brands including GlaxoSmithKline have signed up. According to other reports, accreditation will require an audit by the MRS. Privacy seals are a hot topic for consumer brands – Article 39 of the draft new Regulation seeks to promote the use of such certification to give the public a more user-friendly way of assessing whether the brands to which they entrust their data are compliant.

Mention of the draft Regulation reminds us that last year, of course, Data Protection Day was marked in spectacular style by the European Commission with the official unveiling of its proposals for strengthened privacy rights and sanctions. As readers will be familiar, those tough new proposals have gained strong endorsement from the European Parliament, and look increasingly likely to be adopted.  So, how many more Data Protection Days will come and go before the new rules actually come into force?  Datonomy reckons another two, or at most three anniversaries from now – taking us to 2015 or 2016.

What should data controllers do in the interim to prepare for the introduction of more prescriptive rules and turnover based fines? The next two years provide a vital window to audit and get the house in good shape for compliance. To that end, the Datonomy team have been busy developing an online audit tool to help organisations with what can be a cumbersome and time consuming process.  If you’d like to know more about the tool, please call Ross McKean (020 7067 3378) or Claire Walker (020 7067 3174).

Datonomy wishes all its readers a very happy Data Protection Day, and looks forward to comments about how the event has been observed around the world, or in your organisation.

Across the Channel, the event is being marked with a series of workshops, talks, book launches and even an art exhibition, detailed on the website of European Privacy Day. Datonomy readers have unfortunately missed the Privacy Party which took place on 25 January. For our readers on the other side of the Atlantic, details of events taking place in the US and Canada can be found on the website of Data Privacy Day,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *