UCSB is a Champion of International Data Privacy Week, which is observed from January 21-27 in 2024. Data Privacy Week is an international effort, sponsored by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, that is held annually in January to spread awareness about online privacy and educate citizens on how to keep their personal information secure. Millions of people are unaware of and uninformed about how their personal information is being used, collected, and shared in our digital society. Data Privacy Week aims to inspire dialogue and empower individuals and companies to take action.

We encourage you to understand your data privacy rights and how to exercise them. While regulations like General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) address the growing concern for privacy issues, many folks are still unsure exactly what their rights are, how to exercise those rights, and how to understand if companies are actually compliant. Every data privacy regulation has its own set of rights and interpretation of those rights, but there are certain commonalities among them, such as: 

  • The right to know what data is being collected about you.
  • The right to correct inaccurate data.
  • The right to know whether your data is sold or shared and who is receiving it.
  • The right to deletion or the right to be forgotten.

Companies are required to include this information in their privacy policies. Just having an icon on their home page is not enough. 

Here are some specific steps you can take to protect your online information, identity, and privacy:

Review and adjust privacy settings. Check the privacy settings on all of your apps and social media accounts to ensure that they are set to only share what you want, with whom you want. Don’t rely on the default settings. We encourage everyone to visit staysafeonline.org to check and update their privacy settings on all accounts. 

  • Secure all devices, especially smartphones. Smartphones are carried by virtually everyone and often contain our most personal information. Whether using an iPhone or Android, research the best way to secure it for full privacy, including options such as the remote wipe feature.
  • Use strong, unique passwords. That way, if one of your passwords gets compromised, the others are still safe. Use complex passwords and never share them. 
  • Enable multi-factor authentication (MFA). This will add an extra layer of protection to your accounts by making it significantly harder for attackers to gain unauthorized access. Even if someone manages to obtain your password, they will still need a second factor to log in.
  • Use a password manager. Using an encrypted password manager to store your passwords makes it easy to use a complex, unique password for each site.
  •  Guard your personal information. Keep information like your birthday or phone number private. These are key pieces of information used for verification, and should not be shared publicly. If an online service requests this critical information, consider whether it is important enough to warrant it.
  • Keep your University and personal presence separate. Use different accounts for each.

All of us exist in digital form on the Internet. When you're online, you leave a trail of "digital exhaust" in the form of cookies, GPS data, social network posts, browser searches, email exchanges, and more. Services that you don’t even use may have information about you. And once something is online, it can be there forever.

It is important to ensure that the digital “you” matches what you intend to share. It is also important that what is meant to be private remains that way, for yourself and what you share about others. Owning your online presence will help to protect your identity, finances, and reputation – both now and in the future!