Today, the 28th of January is the European Data Protection Day. The date has historical origins – on 28 Jan 1981 the “Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data” was opened up for signature by the Council of Europe.
In 2015, the topic is hotter than ever. The Internet of Everything is capturing tremendous amounts of data about individuals. Every click you make causes ripples across vast big data lakes. Every step you take in the always-on interconnected physical world can cause your digital footprint to grow in detail and spread.
The digital vapor trails are, of course, gold to be mined. Knowledge is distilled into commercial juice by innovative businesses. Some of this pays back to you, the individual, in terms of fascinating customer experience. But at the same time, this may make you slightly worried. What exactly do “they” know about me?
How on earth can I claim my “right to be forgotten”, when I don’t even know who is keeping records about me?
Not only individuals need to be alert – all the companies collecting and processing the data about you need to be awake as well. The new European Data Protection Regulation, which probably will come into effect in 2016-2017, will put considerable legal and regulatory compliance pressure on corporations. This is, of course, a good thing. Data Protection Impact Assessments and Compliance Reviews among other mechanisms will force companies to take a strict and documented approach to storing, processing, outsourcing and cloudifying data. All of this will, in the end, improve the rights of the individual.
Until the regulation takes effect, let us paraphrase Google and South Park and adhere to this advice:
Don’t be evil, mmkay?