Internet trends come and go. But one concept that has steadily gathered momentum over the past decade is that of data protection and privacy. It’s now enshrined in EU law thanks to the GDPR, and today consumers and businesses are far more aware than they’ve ever been about their rights and responsibilities online. That’s why the coming decade offers a fantastic opportunity to embed privacy-by-design principles into every single organisation. But there’s still much to do, to raise awareness and change behaviours, especially among corporates.
That’s why Trend Micro is a proud sponsor and champion of the annual Data Privacy Day initiative, which is celebrated around the world on 28 January.
Back to the beginning
It was on this day way back in 1981 that the Council of Europe opened for signature Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection. The first European Data Protection Day was held in January 2007 to drive greater engagement with online privacy issues, and the rest is history.
Over the past 13 years, countless organisations have come unstuck in a very public manner. From a now-infamous HMRC blunder in 2007 to 2018’s Cambridge Analytica scandal, each incident has highlighted the potentially catastrophic impact of negligent data protection programmes. Yet these incidents have also raised public awareness and galvanised lawmakers. Thanks to the GDPR, European citizens are more in control of their personal data than they have ever been, while businesses must clear a high bar to prove they are responsible custodians of that data.
Still work to do
But there’s still much to do. Highly sensitive personal browsing data is still shared across the adtech digital supply chain billions of times a day without any consent from consumers. Social media companies continue to harvest vast troves of customer data, IoT devices and smart assistants listen to our most intimate conversations, and the growing pervasiveness of digital technology continues to raise concerns among worried parents.
There are also concerns for businesses. GDPR compliance is no easy thing: its vague references to “state of the art” technology and focus on broad principles rather than prescriptive controls, mean there’s no simple tick-box solution here. For many, there’ll be no 100% way of knowing whether they’re compliant until an incident occurs and the company waits for an official verdict.
There have already been over 160,000 breach notifications across Europe since the regulation landed nearly two years ago, leading to fines of €114m (£94m). These will certainly ramp up, as regulators across the region sharpen their knives. The ICO has already stated its intent to fine Marriott International and BA a combined £282m for serious breaches at the companies.
What happens next?
For now, this means that organisations must ensure their data protection policies are aligned with the GDPR, even in post-Brexit Britain. They must focus on best practice approaches and frameworks like those produced by NIST, Cyber Essentials and ISO. And they must look to partner with the right security experts: vendors that can offer multi-layered protection across all parts of the IT infrastructure, from endpoint to servers, networks to web and email gateways. The end goal is privacy-by-design: a commitment to embedding data protection into everything an organisation does.
At Trend Micro, we sit on both sides of the data privacy debate. Our Internet Safety for Kids and Families (ISKF) programme has offered vital resources for concerned parents for over a decade. But we also provide expert advice and support for organisations struggling to navigate a complex regulatory landscape while ensuring they do right by their customers.
As a Data Privacy Day Champion, we’re working hard on both fronts — to ensure consumers know their rights, and have the tools and knowledge to stay safe online, and that businesses have the right controls and processes in place to meet their data protection responsibilities. As we travel through a new decade, there’s still plenty of work to do.