Something to Celebrate: Data Privacy Day!

January 30, 2020
Laura E. McGarry

I have been thinking a lot lately about all of the new “holidays” that are being invented. While I am all for celebrating National Ice Cream for Breakfast Day and National Sibling Day, I am having a hard time keeping up. While scrolling through Facebook recently to catch up on all the cute baby pictures my friends have been posting, I saw a notice from the Facebook Privacy Team about “Data Privacy Day.” Turns out, Data Privacy Day is an annual event that occurs each year on January 28th.

This announcement from Facebook got me thinking about how private my online presence is across all of my personal accounts. Although I am very cautious about my social media privacy settings, only allowing my “friends” and approved followers to view my content, I am not so sure about how secure my other accounts really are. So, I decided, to go all in on celebrating Data Privacy Day.

To do so, I started a Word document containing a list of all of my online accounts I could think of. I scrolled through my email to see if there were any notices or emails from websites through which I have an account as a way to jog my memory. I also looked through all of the apps on my phone, checked through the bookmarks on my work and home computers, and made a list of all of the bills I pay online. I came up with a rather large, and probably incomplete list, that includes things like Instagram, utility companies, student loan servicers, Netflix, Amazon, my doctor’s online portal, my kids’ daycare website, professional licensure organizations, etc.

My plan is to go through that list, log in to each account, and verify that the privacy settings are exactly how I want them and that I understand the terms of each privacy policy. Admittedly, I do not read through the entirety of each privacy policy or check the privacy settings every time I sign up for a new account. This will be a way to make sure I am fully aware of what I am consenting to on the privacy front. I anticipate that I may deactivate or delete some accounts that do not allow me to maintain the level of privacy that I want.

It is my plan to set a reminder on my calendar to celebrate Data Privacy Day each January 28th by checking through the list of accounts and verifying that the privacy policies haven’t changed and that I still want to maintain a presence on that website or app. I am going to try to remember to keep the Word document with all of the accounts I log in to updated so that I have a list of all of the places my private information may exist on the internet.

My next step is to start a movement to have it changed to Data Privacy and Donuts Day so there’s a reward at the end of all this privacy-protecting work!

Laura McGarry is an attorney at Russell, Krafft and Gruber, LLP in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. She received her law degree from Penn State Law and provides legal counsel to individuals and businesses in Lancaster and surrounding communities.