Europe marks Data Protection Day, as Google publishes its guiding privacy principles

News by Dan Raywood

Today marks this year's Data Protection Day with an event at the European Parliament.

Today marks this year's Data Protection Day with an event at the European Parliament.

With an intention to ‘promote privacy amongst young citizens' online and physically, the date marks the anniversary of the adoption of the Council of Europe's Convention on the protection of personal data (Convention 108), the first legally binding international instrument in the field of data protection.

Peter Hustinx, spokesperson at the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), said: “Our societies and institutions are more and more dependent upon the widespread use of information and communication technologies. This inevitably leads to a massive processing of personal data in almost all fields of life.

“The growing use of personal data affects us all, and the privacy consequences of this development are now becoming more visible. It is therefore essential that everyone's fundamental rights to privacy and data protection are effectively protected in practice.”

Microsoft, a partner in the event, has released the results of UK research findings on attitudes towards online reputation and how online information can have real life consequences for job seekers.

Its research found that just 37 per cent of individuals believe that the responsibility for protecting their online reputation lies entirely with them, while 41 per cent of HR managers have rejected a candidate as a result of their online profile. A further 64 per cent of HR managers believe it is appropriate to consider information about a personal online reputation while evaluating candidates.

Cliff Evans, head of privacy and security at Microsoft UK, said: “Reputation and information sharing as a privacy issue should be a main concern for individuals, especially in a challenging economic environment, where jobs are scarce and online information is evidentially playing a pivotal role in the hiring process.

“Social media, search and other online services offer tremendous benefits, but to safely embrace these services, people need to monitor and cultivate their online reputation. Ignoring your online reputation is no longer an option. Everyone needs to think carefully about the image they are digitally portraying. Be your own publicist! Taking a few simple steps today can help build the online image you'll need tomorrow.”

Google has also used Data Protection Day to publish its guiding privacy principles. It said that it ‘works hard to make sure any innovation is balanced with the appropriate level of privacy and security for our users'. It also said that its ‘privacy principles help guide decisions we make at every level of our company, so we can help protect and empower our users while we fulfil our ongoing mission to organise the world's information'.

Its principles are listed as: use information to provide our users with valuable products and services; develop products that reflect strong privacy standards and practices; make the collection of personal information transparent; give users meaningful choices to protect their privacy; and be a responsible steward of the information we hold.

Alan Eustace, senior vice president, engineering and research at Google, said: “We've always operated with these principles in mind. Now, we're just putting them in writing so you have a better understanding of how we think about these issues from a product perspective. Like our design and software guidelines, these privacy principles are designed to guide the decisions we make when we create new technologies.”


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