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By Danny van Haaren

You’re on mute; we can’t hear you…

Probably one of the most used sentences in 2020? A lot of people will recognize this sentence right away.

Think about it, what does this sentence really mean? It means change, and with change comes adaptation. In the past year we have read many different articles about remote working, change, digitization, new ways of working, etc. I guess we can say that 2020 was a year full of surprises, it was a year full of direction seeking and adaptation. It was also a year where the word “privacy” became more famous.

Privacy has never been so important in the community like it is today. Let us elaborate on how we all started thinking more about our privacy.

I created a personal list of top 5 “privacy trends”, taking the natural developments of last year into account:

01. The mic

So, back to the muted mic. Meetings: one of the big adaptations in the past year, almost everything is now done remotely. We have meetings with hundreds of people together where we share our screens, chat, and share data, all at the same time. If you are a frequent “meeter” you have almost certainly experienced one or more of these new normal behaviors. People that leave their mic “on”. Casually you hear their family members talking in the background, until it is too late to mute the mic (just imagine your wife yelling in the background): "honey, you forgot to flush the toilet again?" Also, the other way around: people who talk for minutes until they realize that their mic is off, what a waste of time and potential.

02. The screen

Another famous feature in today’s “normal meeting” is sharing your screen. While looking at only my personal experience: I experienced people unknowingly switching to their web WhatsApp page, and leaving it on screen for almost 10 minutes, till someone told them that its visible to all participants. Just imagine; take a look at your last messages on WhatsApp and see if it’s appropriate for your colleagues to see, or even worse: your clients.

03. The person

Teams working fully remotely. How can you (as a leader) know for sure that employees are really working? In some countries it has gotten so far, that organizations are not allowed to use the employee’s computer system to track their productivity to see if they are active or not. If they do, it can be a privacy violation. Interested in privacy yet?

04. The workplace

When working from home, does the organization have control on the “home working spaces” of their employees? Mostly not. The company can only support and advice the employees on how they should set up their workspace. I can imagine a future, where companies have a dedicated team to examine the houses and workspaces of their employees and see if it is really work proof. Does this have something to do with privacy? I believe so…

05. The awareness

Looking at these latest developments, I guess that people are scoring higher on Data Protection, or Cyber Security eLearn’s. This is because we are living in the moment, we are experiencing these developments in real time. We are adapting to our new environment, where we always have to be vigilant and / or aware of our privacy. I personally call it, “the age of privacy”.

Danny van Haaren, Consultant Advisory & Experienced Data Privacy SME