27 Jan 2022

Countdown to Data Privacy Day

Guest blog: Matthew Peake, Global Director for Public Policy at Onfido discusses the importance of Data Privacy Day 2022.


In 2006, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe established European Data Protection Day to be celebrated each year on 28 January.

Why this date? It marks the anniversary of the opening for the signature of the Council of Europe's Convention 108, which regulated the automatic processing of personal data. This was a pioneering convention that has been a cornerstone of data protection law for over 30 years.

Now a globally recognised event, it is known as Data Privacy Day outside Europe and is recognised in the United States, Canada, Nigeria and Israel among other countries. Now 16 years later, data privacy continues to be incredibly important.


Why Data Privacy Is Still the Most Important Question for the Internet

Over the past two years, pandemic related lockdowns and restrictions have forced millions worldwide to rapidly shift to digital services. With face-to-face interactions significantly reduced, consumers needed to use online services more than ever before. Users and businesses have embraced the vast benefits of digital services like never before, and digital-first has become the new normal.

This has meant that organisations have had to re-evaluate how to establish and maintain trust online, especially as digital fraud has become increasingly widespread. Our research shows that sophisticated identity fraud, which often involves the theft of troves of personal data, has increased by 57% over 2021.

Organisations cannot do this alone. Regulators need to set clear standards and frameworks to help individuals trust that their data will be protected when they go online. At the same time, these standards mustn’t chill the incentives for companies to innovate and invest; otherwise, it will hinder the next wave of products and services for consumers. In the US, a new report found compliance costs with the patchwork of state privacy laws could exceed $1 trillion over 10 years, with $200 billion hitting small businesses.

Furthermore, there needs to be a clear recognition that digital technologies work across borders. Frictionless data flows and interoperable regulatory regimes are not a luxury but a necessity. Therefore an agile and joined-up international approach is exactly what citizens need to protect their privacy, especially in the wake of the pandemic. 

16 years after the Council of Europe first conceived Data Protection Day, we still need to talk about protecting personal data in a digital world – and Data Privacy Day is the perfect opportunity to do it.


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How Onfido Protects Your Data

Onfido’s services incorporate stringent procedures to protect consumer privacy. We put privacy at the heart of everything we do and work closely with key regulators such as the Information Commissioner’s Office in the UK (ICO) to ensure our innovative technologies and uses of data remain in compliance with applicable privacy law. An example of this is our work with the ICO’s Regulatory Sandbox, which has enabled Onfido to effectively reduce algorithmic bias in our models and ensure they operate fairly for all individuals whilst upholding and respecting privacy.

Onfido’s recent research with Okta found that biometric verification and authentication is popular among consumers who trust in its security. It also gives users what they want: speed and convenience.

We repay that trust by implementing strict rules around how we process applicant data, and have created policy principles that explain how we use data in building our products and services. 

And users recognise the speed and convenience of the service. The research also found that 91% who’ve had their identity verified by submitting a photo of an identity document would like to use this option again. Plus:

  • 57% say their use of biometrics increased over the past year,
  • 64% are open to biometrics over documents in branches,
  • 59% prefer digital biometrics to dialling a call centre and revealing their memorable question or answer,
  • 70% are open to biometrics instead of a password.

The good news in all of this is that biometrics, once implemented, are faster, less expensive, much more convenient, and more secure than any other authentication system. Find out more about how you as a business can achieve improved security and usability with biometric verification without compromising privacy here

This blog is part of a series exploring the UK's upcoming reform to its data protection regime. Learn more here.


Matthew Peake

Matthew Peake

Global Director of Public Policy, Onfido

Matt is Onfido's Global Director of Public Policy. He has nearly 20 years experience in public policy roles in telecoms and technology. Prior to Onfido, he spent over 10 years as Head of Policy for UK and Ireland at Verizon, the US tech giant, overseeing policy across a range of areas including digital competition, cyber security and privacy. Matt holds a law degree (UEA), MBA (Henley Business School), post-graduate diploma in Competition Law (Kings College) and diploma in business international relations and the political economy (London School of Economics).


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