By: Rene McIver, Chief Privacy Officer The COVID-19 pandemic altered the digital landscape, rapidly shifting our world to operate virtually while simultaneously opening the doors to increased vulnerabilities. The reality is that Canada’s digital infrastructure was unprepared for the influx of consumers forced to interact online with the organizations and services we use daily rather than physically visiting a location. Last year reinforced that enabling data privacy standards are critical to keeping consumer data safe and secure during this evolving remote environment. In an effort to increase awareness of the issues in our current virtual reality, we celebrate Data Privacy Day on January 28, a day where we recognize the importance of online digital protections for consumers. It’s an opportunity to reflect on the digital progress in Canada and abroad, while continuing to advocate for further actions to close the remaining gaps that are often the source of online vulnerabilities. Bridging the gaps for safer digital practices The Data Privacy Day initiative helps promote data protection and sharing between consumers and organizations, who can play a critical role in moving awareness of this initiative forward. A recent survey from Salesforce found that 46 percent of consumers feel they’ve lost control of their own data, while the same survey found 41 percent of consumers don’t think organizations care about the security of their data.[1] These are both sobering statistics and highlight the distrust consumers have towards their data privacy and organizations. While both parties play a role, organizations need to make a more concerted effort in championing the importance of online data privacy, while consumers need to take action in understanding a company’s privacy policy to refrain from using technology that does not provide adequate data protection. Fortunately, consumers are becoming more protective of their online data. We saw this recently following WhatsApp’s announcement of privacy changes and data sharing. According to data analytics from Sensor Tower, Signal, a cross-platform centralized encrypted messaging service, was downloaded a total of 246,000 times worldwide in the week before WhatsApp announced the change on January 4, 2021 and 8.8 million times the week after.[2] It is encouraging to see consumers taking the necessary action and adopting platforms that put consumers data privacy and security first to avoid the potential digital risks associated with oversharing data. Being good stewards of data privacy awareness and championing it are two things we take extremely seriously at SecureKey. Last year we collaborated with Digital ID & Authentication Council of Canada with the launch of the Pan-Canadian Trust Framework, to assist in providing digital ID and authentication industry standards to help define how digital ID and data privacy will roll out across Canada. To better protect the privacy of Canadians and future-proof the Canadian digital ID landscape, SecureKey continues to generate and foster key partnerships across various industries. As a leader in digital authentication and an advocate for increased digital safety measures, we work to educate and support consumers with user consent-driven technology — eliminating virtual complexities and privacy vulnerabilities among a rapid digital transformation. Advice for business and consumers It is important consumers are aware of the risks of oversharing personal information online and how to better protect themselves and their data. The best advice for consumers to protect their data privacy is to make informed decisions. This is best done by monitoring apps and websites with exposure to your data and take advantage of the privacy and security settings that you as a consumer can amend. To manage reputation, enhance growth and cultivate trust, organizations are encouraged to be transparent about how they collect, store and use data. To progress data privacy measures in Canada, SecureKey continues to protect consumers by helping organizations take the appropriates measures to shield data they collect daily. Businesses should also implement privacy frameworks to impose standards, manage risks and oversee external partners and venders that provide services on its behalf. For more tips and guidance on how to safeguard your data, join us on February 4-5, 2021 at the virtual Victoria Privacy and Security Conference, where our Chief Identity Officer, Andre Boysen will be speaking on the current trends, issues and actions regarding the importance of data privacy measures necessary for Canada’s evolving digital landscape. For more details or to register for the event, visit: https://securekey.com/events/ To learn more about SecureKey and its full suite of digital identity solutions, visit: https://securekey.com/. [1] https://c1.sfdcstatic.com/content/dam/web/en_us/www/assets/pdf/salesforce-state-of-the-connected-customer-report-2019.pdf [2] https://sensortower.com/ios/us/signal-messenger-llc/app/signal-private-messenger/874139669/overview