EU takes its data privacy seriously; why won’t the U.S.?

Posted: 03/02/2012 in Technology
Tags: , ,

Last Saturday, Jan. 28, activists and lawmakers in the EU and Canada celebrated an event that got relatively little publicity here: European Privacy Day. It was the culminating date in a monthlong campaign to raise awareness of privacy and data protection issues faced not just by the EU, but globally.

In the United States, the National Cyber Security Alliance also celebrated Data Privacy Day on Jan. 28, but its efforts focused on consumer-level methods to secure data from threats like hackers and data-mining viruses or other intrusions. European Privacy Day took a more holistic path in calling attention to privacy and data protection, with meetings and round tables in several countries including Belgium, Sweden, the UK, Hungary, Germany, and more. Each addressed aspects of privacy and security from the consumer, business and legislative level.

Privacy Day-related meetings discussed topics ranging from the implications of smart metering for privacy, to free speech and freedom of association issues related to the workplace, to reviews and discussion on current data protection laws and new laws being enacted. In short, participants didn’t just ask how they could secure our computers and data centers against intrusion; they discussed the real implications of the IP age on individual rights.

The expansive reach of the dialog on the rights of individuals when it came to privacy and protecting data that’s collected about them was surprising in its depth, compared to the U.S. version of Data Privacy Day in which consumers and businesses were given the usual instructions to keep their antivirus programs up to date and to be aware of current laws regarding release of individuals’ data.

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