You've remembered to schedule the kids' dentist appointments and the car inspection is up to date, but what about your personal information? If you are like most people, you are probably overdue for a data privacy tune-up and Data Privacy Day, which took place yesterday, is as good a day as any to take an inventory of the privacy measures in place to protect your personal information.
Protecting your privacy requires action from the government, the private sector and "we the people". The United States still needs to enact a comprehensive privacy law, but the good news is that there is increasing attention to privacy where it matters most. The Federal Trade Commission has stepped up enforcement, and the Obama Administration has been convening stakeholders to find common ground on the issue of mobile privacy. There is a long-running effort to find consensus on how to best implement Do Not Track technology for web browsers, and Do Not Track has also caught the ear of Congress. And, more and more, we're starting to see companies recognize the popular appeal of privacy and promote their privacy-friendly design as a way to differentiate their products in the marketplace.
But we too have an important role to play. Study after study makes clear that Internet users care about their privacy. But we tend to become complacent until the next privacy fiasco lights the blogosphere on fire and spills on to the front page of the New York Times or Wall Street Journal. Granted, it's difficult to keep track of all the personal information we shed online or fully understand what information is being collected and used by the myriad of apps or online sites we engage with every day. Our digital footprint is simply too complex. But that doesn't mean we are powerless to act .
Privacy Tune-up Tools
Fortunately, there are plenty of resources available to help you sort out where you need to beef up your privacy protections; however, if you happen to be on a Catwoman-like quest for the ultimate "fresh start" software, you're going to be disappointed. But there are things you can do.
To get started, check out the excellent resources that the folks at Data Privacy Day have pulled together. where you can educate yourself about "tracking cookies," learn about your privacy rights in your medical information, and get tips for avoiding identify theft, dealing with mobile phone apps and more.
And to help promote Data Privacy day, Intel and Reed Elsevier have teamed up to offer a free download of the digital citizenship book, LOL...OMG! by Matt Ivester. The book has been updated with a special section just for high school kids.
If you want to do more, then get involved in the efforts to beef up the federal laws meant to protect the privacy of your email and all that data that you've being storing in the cloud for years now. You can drop by the Vanishing Rights website and let your elected officials know that privacy is important to you.