National day to spread awareness on data privacy

PennPrivacy advised students on how to protect personal information on the internet

· January 27, 2012, 12:25 am   ·  Updated January 30, 2012, 11:07 pm

There is now a day dedicated to encouraging people to think twice before posting scandalous photos on Facebook.

This Saturday will mark the fourth annual Data Privacy Day. The national day was ratified by the Senate in 2009 to spread awareness about protecting private data on the internet.

The day is targeted towards the younger generations who grew up during an era of oversharing and emphasizes the importance of protecting private information, such as social security number, birth date and credit card numbers.

The National Cyber Security Alliance, a non-profit organization that educates people on how to adjust to and avoid the dangers of the digital era, celebrates the day by hosting talks across the nation about the importance of data privacy. Their purpose on this day is to answer the question web denizens have about how they can protect their information from misuse.

For the day, Penn puts out tips on how to better manage online privacy and to protect oneself from information theft.

Penn students living in the digital age might find the number of virtual places that they store private information surprising. Facebook is number one on the list of sites that can reveal sensitive data about individuals, according to PennPrivacy — a group that helps students prevent identify theft and theft of other sensitive information.

The organization put out a pamphlet of tips for students on how to protect their privacy. They remind students to “bear in mind that Facebook is a powerful interactive tool with significant and often complicated sharing capabilities.” They also advise students to take appropriate precautions when sharing information, such as current location, on public networks.

PennPrivacy also suggests regularly deleting their unused files, as “keeping unnecessary data creates unnecessary risks.”

Warren Petrofsky, Director of Information Security and Unix Systems & Director of Natural Science Computing, said “settings and defaults all change constantly” on websites such as Facebook and Tumblr. This day is essential for students to be reminded about how to keep their data safe, he added.

In addition, many people do not realize that the internet is a “permanent record” of content that people post and remain public.

However, many students feel the day is unnecessary, because it primarily emphasizes already-known privacy techniques on websites such as Facebook.

College freshman Nadia Ogene said the day is not necessary. “Most people at Penn already know how to manage their Facebook accounts.”

Similarly, Collin Cousar, a sophomore in Wharton, believes online privacy is not a complicated topic. He added that privacy on Facebook is easy to handle.

“People only see what people show.”

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