Last year, the Council of Europe had a great idea. Based on polling that showed that 70% of Europeans did not understand how their personal data was being protected, the Council decided to hold the first annual Data Protection Day on January 28, 2007. Privacy experts visited schools and universities, launched information campaigns, and held press conferences in locations throughout Europe, informing and educating consumers about their personal data rights and protections.

Lack of understanding about data protection on the Internet is not only a European issue, it's a global one. As more and more personal information comes online every day, it's increasingly important that users all over the world understand both the benefits and potential risks of online data sharing, and the tools at their disposal to control and manage the data they share online. In recognition of the global importance of data protection, the U.S. and Canada have joined 27 European countries to celebrate Data Privacy Day 2008 this Monday, January 28th.

As part of the day's events, we'll join legal scholars, privacy professionals, and government officials from Europe and the U.S. at an international data privacy conference being held at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. We'll also contribute to efforts to raise awareness and promote understanding of data privacy issues by releasing the third video in our privacy series ("Google Privacy: A Look at Cookies") on our YouTube Privacy Channel. This video offers a closer look at how cookies work and how web sites and advertisers use them to personalize our online experiences. We've also developed a privacy booklet (pdf-web version coming soon!) that you can download to get an in-depth look at our privacy practices and approach, and have co-sponsored the creation of educational materials on teen online privacy for parents and educators. The goal of all these efforts is to help educate you about online data privacy so that you can make more informed choices about how you use online products and services.

We hope that you'll take a few minutes on Monday to learn something new, and that Data Privacy Day reinforces existing global efforts to educate consumers about online data collection, use, and protection.