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Do You Care About Data Privacy? Does Anyone?

Data Privacy Day is coming up on the 28th of January. Privacy and security are closely linked and both issues that I care deeply about.

And while I’ve been preparing content for the day, one question continues to haunt me.

Does anyone care about digital privacy?

What Is Privacy?

The broader concept of privacy has many interpretations and is very different across cultures.

When it comes to digital or data privacy, we’re talking about how information about you is collected, processed, and used.

At the speed and scale that our technology works today, this is a major issue. Or at least it should be…right?

Social Media Pressure

The rise of social media at the dawn of the millennia changed how we view information about ourselves. We started to share freely with the world things that we only used to tell our close friends.

Whether or not this has been a positive change is a debate for another time.

The fact remains that 2.9 billion people log into Facebook each month. The amount of content they are sharing is mind boggling.

Does the normalization of sharing like this mean that privacy isn’t a concern?

Facebook—and other social networks—allow the user to control who sees their posts but public is the default for most networks.

Complexity Prevents Awareness

In order to preserve some sense of value to my privacy advocacy work over the year—and hopefully actually valid if you could ever measure it—I have a theory.

The complexity of the technology involved prevents most people from understanding the issues around data privacy.

It’s not that people don’t want control over their data, it’s that they don’t realize the extent to which they’ve lost control already.

It’s not immediately obvious to most people the amount of data that your devices and the software running on them have broadcast publicly. All so you can (ironically?) read this essay on privacy.

Every year I hope that Data Privacy Day moves the needle towards a more secure technology future where people are aware of and have control of their data online.

I’m honestly hopefully that’ll happen.

But I’m pragmatic enough to realize that it’ll take a lot of small steps to get there.