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Experts reflect on data privacy and protection

January 28 2020: Data Privacy Day (known in Europe as Data Protection Day)  is an international event that occurs every year on 28th January. The purpose of Data Privacy Day is to raise awareness and promote privacy and data protection best practices. Each year, 28 January, is observed in India, the US, Canada and 47 European countries.
With that in mind, we have  commentary and advice  from  industry experts
Bhavin Turakhia
, Founder & CEO, Flock says ‘’With the rapid proliferation of new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), internet of things (IoT) etc., businesses need to continuously evaluate the platforms and apps they use from a data security perspective. Today, it has become imperative for companies to opt for technology solutions that have in-built enterprise security features and compliance. Also, we cannot ignore the fact that employees need to be sensitized especially when there is constant news about how user data has been compromised / misused by people with malicious intent. With Data Privacy Day being observed today, organizations need to invest in the training of their IT teams and employees to ensure they acquire the required knowledge and skillsets necessary to tackle today’s sophisticated threats to IT security.’’
Neelesh Kripalani, Senior Vice President and Head, Center of Excellence (CoE) at Clover Infotech says “The Personal Data Protection bill is a step in the right direction. I think every individual should have the right to ascertain the extent of exposure of sensitive and private data. By viewing the data as sensitive, critical and general as against putting it all in one bucket, the government will enable users to have a seamless digital experience while knowing that the data will be processed, stored and protected under a strict lawful guideline. Also, the bill outlines a legal framework to preserve the sanctity of consent in data sharing and penalize those breaching privacy norms, thereby giving citizens more power and control over their digital personas and the associated data.”
Srinivasan CR, Chief Digital Officer, Tata Communications:
“Data Protection Day should serve as a wakeup call for both consumer and companies on the realities of keeping data safe in 2020. While everyone has heard the warnings about keeping personal data safe online, millions of people across the globe are parting with copious amounts of personal data every minute of every day, leaving data traces behind in a literal cookie trail. This is despite us being more aware of the value of our data than ever before.”
 “Sadly, this universal truth is at constant war with our impatient, always-connected brain, which urges us to scroll through terms and conditions as quickly as physically possible so that we can access what’s on the other side. Effectively we are signing away our data ownership in a matter of seconds each time. And once that's gone, you can never get it back. Privacy is a Pandora’s Box in that sense. It’s easy to say that there should be more education among consumers, but ultimately so much of our data already sits within online services’ databases globally, it’s already nearly impossible for individuals to take back control of their digital profile.
 “On the flip side, businesses which have been collecting this data for so long are also now in a difficult position. The data sprawl that enterprises have created is expansive and the cost of keeping it secure will be significant. Today, businesses need to take a leading role in ensuring that our data doesn’t fall into the wrong hands, as the impact has been grave for users and businesses alike. Realistically though, we will need to accept a trade-off between what we can and can’t secure. More manual error-based issues can and will occur, so there needs to be a mitigating framework in place to stop errors wherever possible, but also to handle these breaches when they do occur.
 “Yet, in spite of the acres of negative news around data misuse, collecting and using personal data should not be considered a mortal sin. If you look past big business, there are many other use cases for data, such as scientific experiments or health developments which drive new social value. If we cut off the access to all data, we risk losing out on a lot of valuable insights and new discoveries. But this is only the case when data is in the right hands. Businesses who do collect data should have a high degree of responsibility for that data - and that, of course, includes culpability when things go wrong.”
Venkat Krishnapur, Vice-President of Engineering and Managing Director, McAfee India,  
“The more technology we adopt in our lives, the more our privacy seems to slip away. The irresistible urge to share everything we do on social channels is actively providing an expanse of unnecessary information about our personal lives to everyone out there. Online advertisers and marketers are using “supercookies” to relay information about you and your web browsing habits. While mobile apps implement permission-based models to protect access to personal user data, parallelly, they can bypass these permissions to gain access to sensitive user data without consent.
 There’s little doubt that the digital world provides speed, convenience and time-efficiency for a better consumer experience. However, as companies collect more and more customer data and with third parties desperate for the said data, we run the risk of handing over our sensitive personal information to cyber criminals. Data has now become a commodity for organisations that look to monetize it by selling it to advertisers.
This Data Privacy Day is a stark reminder of the importance of managing our digital footprint, encouraging safe online practices and raising awareness about the need for data privacy. Privacy and security complement each other. People need to  take control of their data by exercising privacy controls on all devices and accounts. As a rule, only download apps from a trustworthy source and only give apps and services the permissions they absolutely need to function. In addition, it is best to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts, because if one account is compromised in a data breach, all accounts using the password are vulnerable. While transparency may seem to be the current fad, users must recognize the potential for data to be misused and limit the amount of information shared on social media. While India’s Personal Data Protection Bill is step in the right direction to empower consumers, the onus lies equally on the users to be aware, informed and vigilant about how their data is being harnessed.”
From Sophos: Simple tips to secure your data. Read here