Today is the 7th annual Data Privacy Day. This auspicious day, the day on which Convention 108 (the first legally binding international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection) was signed in 1981, first began in Europe. Canada and the U.S. followed in January 2008.

Protect from Data Misuse

Some argue that the U.S. has lagged behind Europe with regards to data privacy, but no one can escape the headlines: we are seeing a seismic shift in protecting against data misuse (read our previous post on the topic of data security versus data use). New technologies across Big Data, Internet Connected Devices (Mobile, Internet of Things), drive concerns around all this collected data. Due in part to the unprecedented violations of privacy (Snowden, Sony, Uber, Snapchat, etc.), Americans now understand that companies must be concerned not only with protecting their data from nefarious outsiders, but also from misuse by insiders (intended or not). Most people recognize that data can be used to innovate and improve their lives, they simply asked that their privacy not be sacrificed in the process.

Just two weeks ago, Obama President Obama issued an historic call for a variety of new privacy laws. The administration also scaled back the amount of consumer data it releases to private companies from the government’s health insurance website. And just last Friday at Harvard’s “Privacy in a Networked World” symposium, John DeLong, NSA’s director of commercial solutions, said “Protecting privacy today is more an art than a science. The science and engineering of privacy [is] the key challenge of our time.”

Leverage Continuous Monitoring of Data Use

While all this shows great progress, there is one big piece missing: the enterprise must proactively hold itself accountable for proper use of patient, consumer, and citizen data that it has collected. Very few organizations have made protection against data misuse a high priority. Companies have a natural tendency to spend only the minimal amount to demonstrate point-in-time compliance but don’t realize that there are efficient and automated ways to monitor data use continuously, to maximize the use of that data with confidence rules are being followed, and to reinforce customer trust in a big data world.

It’s not just Who has access to the data, but How it’s being used

On this data privacy day, we at TrustLayers call for the enterprise to be more vigilant. We believe that corporate America should proactively and continuously monitor not just who is accessing sensitive data, but also how they are using it. Only with a strong partnership can we enable enterprises and consumers to benefit from technologies that allow us to innovate with big data without the loss of privacy.