Make data privacy your next resolution

Mark Luetkehoelter, Librarian

When you look at a calendar of celebrations for January, many deal with self-improvement as we start a new year.
For example, there is Diet Resolution Week, Financial Wellness Month and Get a Balanced Life Month, just to name a few.
Perhaps not as enticing as those celebrations, yet one that should garner at least a little of your attention is Data Privacy Week (, celebrated from Jan. 24-28.
Data Privacy Week is recognized each year internationally to empower individuals and businesses to respect privacy and safeguard data. Sponsored by the National Cybersecurity Alliance, it has been celebrated every January since 2008.
Perhaps you got some type of nifty tech gift over the holidays that helps make your life easier or better in some way. Maybe you got a Fitbit or some other wearable health device. Maybe you got an interactive gaming device. Maybe you got a Facebook Portal or Amazon Echo. You’re likely enjoying those gifts very much, but as you do, one of the goals of Data Privacy Week is to get you to think about the convenience you receive from these things versus the tradeoff of the privacy you give up.
Everything we do online generates data – data about our activities, behaviors, interests and personal information. Some of that data is taken without our knowing about it, but much of it we willingly give away.
Data Privacy Week encourages being thoughtful about how we share our data online and offers suggestions to go about it. The site provides information on managing privacy on a number of social media sites and online platforms: It also provides proactive strategies to protect your information.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Data Privacy Week mentions MFA (multi-factor authentication) as one of the best current strategies for privacy and security.
Since becoming a requirement in the COVID era here at Madison College, it seems to be a prime example of the tradeoff between convenience and privacy or security. Many students and staff have hated the process of setting it up or having to sometimes change the method. If we can take a moment to appreciate the security and privacy provided, hopefully that makes the hassle of setting it up easier to take.
In addition to the great advice offered by Data Privacy Week, a free e-book available for viewing from the Madison College Library Catalog, “Net privacy: how we can all be free in an age of surveillance,” suggests conceptual and practical steps to ensure a sense of privacy and not end up being prisoners in a digital Panopticon. Rewatch The Matrix if you need to get a sense of what a digital Panopticon is.
Also, the Madison College Libraries have a great guide about online security and privacy at The guide provides practical links to and information about ways to protect your privacy a bit more online.
Make better online privacy a New Year’s resolution!