After a seismic twelve months in the brief history of data breaches, Data Privacy Day 2019 could not be arriving at a more opportune moment. In the past year, we’ve seen the introduction of GDPR, the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the Marriott International’s breach. And just this past week Google was hit with a whopping £44m fine by the French data regulator CNIL, surely the most telling evidence to date that data privacy is rising closer to the top of both the corporate and political agenda.

With more sensitive data stored online than ever before, there is an even greater need for individual citizens to ensure that they understand the implications and have effective privacy measures in place as they move about the web. Human weakness remains the hackers’ go-to target when looking to make off with our personal data, not to mention their primary avenue for breaking into corporate networks to harvest data en masse.

And yet, in terms of the broader public consciousness, there remains the sense that data still isn’t being recognized as a major priority. We, the public, may be more aware that our data isn’t always secure, that it may have been shared with third parties without our consent. We may even claim that we’d cease to do business with an organization that admitted to compromising our personal data. But as individual participants within our data-driven economy, we’re still not sufficiently engaged with privacy issues, or enabled by technical know-how, to make the sort of substantive, lasting changes required to keep our digital selves safe and secure.

Against this backdrop, Data Privacy Day feels too slight, too fleeting. We have just one annual 24-hour window in which the issue is supposed to be lauded and promoted, and even then, Data Privacy Day is forced to vie for the public’s attention against Fun at Work Day, National Kazoo Day, and National Pizza Week.

Pizza may be important; data privacy is fundamental.

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