EthicalGEO Celebrates Data Privacy Day

January 28th marks the annual day of a global effort to generate awareness and the importance of privacy. Millions of people live their lives from day to day completely oblivious to how their personal information is being used in our digitally-oriented world. This is a day to “own your privacy.”

This day of data privacy was begun in the United States and Canada on the 28th of the first month as an extension of the celebration of Data Protection Day that already existed in Europe that commemorates the signing of Convention 108, the first legally binding international treaty in regards to privacy and data protection. The treaty was signed on January 28th, 1981.

Convention 108 was a precursor to the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) passed by the Council of the European Union and the European PArliament in 2016, and implemented in all member states in 2018. The GDPR is considered by many privacy advocates to be the gold standard of data privacy protection laws.

In the United States, the landscape of data privacy laws is much more varied and no national standard exists. California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) in 2018, and updated the statute with the California Privacy Rights Act (CPRA) in 2020. Though reactions to the CPRA from civil liberty and data advocacy groups were mixed, the California regulations remain the most comprehensive data protection laws at the state of national level in the United States. 

In 2021, the NCSA is extending the day by encouraging individuals to “Own Your Privacy” by educating people on how to protect your personal data. This campaign advocates for holding organizations accountable for possessing the personal information of individuals. This protects the people’s data from unauthorized access and ensuring fair and legitimate data collection.

The American Geographical Society launched the EthicalGEO Initiative in 2019, in order to foster a dialogue between industry leaders, academic researchers, and policymakers working at the intersection of ethics and geospatial technology and data. As one of it five central priorities, EthicalGEO investigates Privacy implications of the rapid expansion and adoption of advanced location services including GPS, mobile location tracking, and GIS applications.

For more information on how you can be a part of Data Privacy Day, visit the National Cyber Security Alliance website. To get more learn more about the work of EthicalGEO, or to get involved, please email

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