What started out as a commemoration of the very important Convention 108 in Europe in 2007, January 28th is now celebrated publicly in the U.S. as Data Privacy Day. Though the celebration mostly takes place on social media every year, the only legally binding multilateral agreement in the field of personal data protection is celebrated, nonetheless. Given recent global developments, people across the world might agree that privacy means a bit more this year than it has in the past, depending on your perspective.
Back when, working from home (WFH) used to be viewed as a nice perk that employment candidates sought out when applying to potential employers, but thanks to a worldwide pandemic, WFH has become the main practice for a majority of organizations. It has been a major adjustment for the entire workforce across the planet, but there are those who easily rediscovered a work/life balance under these new circumstances—the ones that say they appreciate the opportunity of being home with loved ones in lieu of a two-to-four-hour commute every day. However, there are those professionals that have found it harder to recalibrate. Home is no longer the place you long to work from on occasion, but the only option in some cases, and some are finding that their private home life and their work life are blending to the point where they can’t easily distinguish one from the other. For those still struggling to find balance, there is light at the end of the tunnel – it’s just that something different works for everyone.
"...while people may be wrestling with concerns of an invasion of privacy at home, organizations too are wrestling with an invasion of data privacy in the workplace."
While many individuals have struggled with finding a new stability between their work and life, organizations themselves have also had to do some adjusting in the grander scheme, doubling down on controls and ensuring that their professionals remain vigilant from a security and privacy perspective. Working from home means information being processed on various equipment and traversing numerous networks, most of which do not have close to the same protection as those networks and pieces of equipment owned and controlled by the organization at office locations. As such, executives and leadership are having to reiterate the importance of protecting client information when sending email, traversing the web, and online shopping (only during lunch breaks, of course). So, while people may be wrestling with concerns of an invasion of privacy at home, organizations too are wrestling with an invasion of data privacy in the workplace—it’s a different kind of epidemic, but one that is also spreading everywhere.
We have all dealt with challenges of COVID-19—in that, we can all relate. As we feel the impact of the pandemic on our own personal privacy, we should remember that we have also been entrusted with the privacy of others, professionally. When it comes to client data, organizations assume custodianship of that data while it is in their possession, and have committed to that data being kept secure and private, regardless of where their professionals are doing their work. As part of our organizations, that means that the onus to maintain security and privacy of that data also falls on us. For those of us in the field, those of us with that responsibility, Data Privacy Day is not only a commemoration of past achievements in the protection of privacy, but an opportunity for us to reflect on the importance of privacy in our own lives while also recommitting to protecting it for those that have entrusted us with their business and personal information.