Data Protection Day 2015 is officially upon us. Yes, you heard correctly. The 28th of January marks a curious celebration of data privacy on both sides of the Atlantic and beyond. Forget festive holidays, this is the one everyone has had marked in their digital calendars for months.
Come again, a celebration of data privacy… really? Behave yourself. It seems every day brings a slightly absurd new celebration. International Dog Biscuit Appreciation Day anyone? Nope, haven't heard of it either. (Mark your diaries for 23rd February, apparently.)
Sharing today with such illustrious celebrations as Blueberry Pancake Day (America) and National Kazoo day, DP Day 2015, all cycnicism aside, actually has slightly more to offer. I know what you're thinking… you would rather be eating blueberry pancakes and playing a kazoo all day, wouldn't you? Perhaps more than acknowledging the real issue that data privacy has become?
Indeed, whilst it is easy to poke fun at the cyberspace celebration, of all the bizarre international holidays, Data Protection Day has its merit. Christened Data Privacy Day in the United States and Data Protection Day in Europe, the initiative was conceived by Europeans as a platform to build awareness and understanding of the growing digital footprint many of us now have.
Often as difficult to get your head around as the day of celebration which it has spawned, data protection is a forever intensifying issue thanks to the evolution of modern technology. Now the hot topic for businesses, consumers and citizens in a connected "Internet of Things" world, the turbulent data protection awakening of which we are all on the cusp makes the DP day message more relevant than ever. Yup, you might want to put that Kazoo down.
The EU Data Protection Regulation, working its way through a bureaucratic maze in Brussels, will herald a revolution in data protection principle, practice and potential penalties. Due to be agreed some time this year, and enacted in 2017, the new framework is designed for a landscape in which the Internet of Things is destined to take over and where we are to become further immersed in the digital world around us.
Think of the number of devices you now have, the time you spend online, the number of digital accounts you have. By now, you'll know that certain data is collected about you when you visit a site, "known knowns" if you will, in distinguished Donald Rumsfeld parlance.
Indeed, the much maligned secretary of defence's famous quip, perplexing as it still is, is a paradoxically prescient parable for a digital world where most web surfers are still unaware of the majority of information being collected about them online. The data protection "known unknowns" and "unknown unknowns" are very much out there and, for today, in the spotlight in the hope we can all grasp this fundamental right a little more fully.
So, polish off those blueberry pancakes, and spend some time this Data Protection Day getting to grips with your digital footprint, because if you don't, you risk a data disaster that no pancakes will allay.