This week is Privacy Awareness Week. Its aim is to raise awareness about privacy issues amongst individuals and organizations. Elizabeth Denham CBE, UK Information Commissioner and Global Privacy Assembly chair, and Angelene Falk, Australia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner, kick of this week’s activities and events.
Make Privacy a Priority
Privacy Awareness Week (PAW) is an annual event that highlights the importance of protecting personal information. The event is a joint initiative of the Asia Pacific Authorities Forum (APPA), the principal forum for privacy, and data protection authorities in the Asia Pacific region.
As a part of PAW, members hold a variety of different events and provide various activities for individuals, businesses and government organizations. In Australia, the “Make privacy a priority” campaign will run from 3 to 9 May. Other members, like Canada, support Privacy Awareness Week by promoting and sharing the resources developed by APPA members.
A focus of this year’s campaign is the risk of oversharing personal information online. This is a worrying trend. Especially as people or organizations can use and reveal contact details, financial information, health data, and other sensitive information in unexpected ways.
Privacy During Covid-19 Pandemic Recovery
Privacy regulators from around the world recognize the value of personal information. Its importance has again been highlighted throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. In many countries, the speed and success of public health responses still strongly depends on public confidence in the use of personal information.
In Australia, the use of personal data has helped the nation of 26 million to almost eliminate community transmission. It is also a key factor in the country’s recovery. However, the Global Privacy Assembly (GPA) warns that the potential sharing of health data, on a mass scale and across borders, “can and should only be done in a privacy-protected manner”.
In a statement, the GPA urges governments and organizations responsible for processing health data to consider and respect privacy principles and practices, for example, for the purpose of relaunching international travel. “Considering privacy risks at the outset is vital”, the organization said. Therefore, privacy should be by design, with default principles embedded, and cybersecurity risks should be fully assessed.
Resources for Parents and Individuals
Privacy is a major concern for many. Nonetheless, research shows that half of Australians are unsure how to protect their personal information. Therefore, the Australian Information Commissioner has launched several new resources for individuals, including privacy tips for parents and carers. Also launched was an infographic explaining what to do if your personal information is involved in a data breach. And a poster outlining the 10 essential steps in a privacy impact assessment.
In general, good privacy practices include:
- The use of strong passwords and multi-factor authentication;
- General privacy awareness, especially when it comes to phishing and other online scams;
- The installation of reputable antivirus software;
- A VPN for added privacy and security; and
- acting quickly in case of a data breach.
Commissioner Angelene Falk emphasized how important it is to “always ask why, how and who”, before giving out personal information. “Don’t give out your personal information unless you understand and are comfortable with how and where it is going to be used.” She’s also pleased to see that more than 560 organizations are showing their support for Privacy Awareness Week. “Record support for the event shows privacy has become a leading priority for organizations,” she said.
This Week’s Events
There are plenty of virtual events happening across Australia to mark the week.
- Monday 3 May: Angelene Falk, Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner, is in conversation with Elizabeth Denham CBE, UK Information Commissioner and Global Privacy Assembly chair, for the launch of Privacy Awareness Week 2021 – audio recording available here.
- Tuesday 4 May: webinar hosted by the International Association of Privacy Professionals. Members of Privacy Professionals Network learn how Commissioner Falk and privacy commissioners from across the Asia Pacific region are working to make privacy a priority.
- Wednesday 5 May: webinar hosted by privacy experts of Salinger Privacy’s about Australian community attitudes towards privacy.
- Thursday 6 May: commissioner Falk will speak at the virtual launch of the Deloitte Australian Privacy Index 2021.
- Friday 7 May: commissioner Falk will open the Australian Government Solicitor FOI and Privacy Forum 2021. She will join a panel discussion with the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) and the Attorney-General’s Department on the future of privacy.