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125 Years of Privacy, Technology, Economy & Law: A Big Data Privacy Summary in 11 Highlights

Sogeti Labs
January 16, 2013

Privacy, a concept that can be dated back to the mid 15th century, has evolved from physical personal good and property along with thought and speech to the digital realm. Now, as new solutions facilitate the real-time collection, processing and dissemination of Big Data, concerns rise over an Orwellian privacy-invasive governmental and commercial Thought Police Force. As stated in the 1997 reader Technology and Privacy: The New Landscape, “[Digital] privacy is the capacity to negotiate social relationships by controlling access to personal information. As laws, policies, and technological design increasingly structure people’s relationships with social institutions, individual privacy faces new threats and new opportunities.” 1890         Our Right to Privacy 1966         Surveillance instead of  Privacy 1973     Computer and Database Privacy 1979         Origin, Function, and Future of Privacy 1997         Privacy and Global Electronic Commerce 2004         The Real Threats to Privacy 2006         A New Taxonomy of Privacy 2012         Digital Privacy: Let Me Alone and Forget What I Did 2012         Big Data Privacy: Time for Big Decisions  2012         Privacy by Design in the Age of Big Data 2015         General Data Protection Regulation 1890 The Right to Privacy (Harvard Law Review) – Samuel Warren, Louis Brandeis Ancient but in Flux That the individual shall have full protection in person and in property is a principle as old as the common law; but it has been found necessary from time to time to define anew the exact nature and extent of such protection. [ . . . ] The right to life has come to mean the right to enjoy life, the right to be left alone. Technology Matters Recent inventions and business methods call attention to the next step which must be taken for the protection of the person, and for securing to the individual what Judge Cooley calls the right “to be left alone.” [ . . . ] Numerous [ . . . ] devices threaten to make good the prediction that “what is whispered in the closet shall be proclaimed from the rooftops.” 1966 U.S. Supreme Court on the Surveillance Society – William Douglas Big Brother We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government. 1973 Cryptography and Computer Privacy (Scientific American)- Horst Feistel Computer and Database Privacy Computer systems in general and personal “data banks” in particular need protection. This can be achieved by encyphering all material and authenticating the legitimate origin of any command to the computer. 1979 Privacy: Its Origin, Function, and Future Jack Hirschleifer Autonomy Instead of Secrecy The mainland of privacy is not the idea of secrecy as our pioneers appear to believe [ . . . ] The central domain of what we mean by privacy is, rather, a concept that might be described as autonomy within society. 1997 A Framework for Global Electronic Commerce – Bill Clinton, Al Gore On Privacy, Technology and the Economy Americans [and all other people, red.] treasure privacy, linking it to our concept of personal freedom and well-being. Unfortunately, the GII’s [Global Information Infrastructure, red.] great promise — that it facilitates the collection, re-use, and instantaneous transmission of information — can, if not managed carefully, diminish personal privacy. It is essential, therefore, to assure personal privacy in the networked environment if people are to feel comfortable doing business. 2004 Understanding Privacy and the Real Threats to It  – Jeremy Harper Privacy Is: Properly defined, privacy is the subjective condition people experience when they have power to control information about themselves. 2006 A Taxonomy of Privacy (University of Pennsylvania Law Review) – Daniel Solove Cleaning Up Privacy Chaos           Privacy is a concept in disarray. Nobody can articulate what it means. [ . . . ] Abstract incantations of the importance of “privacy” do not fare well when pitted against more concretely stated countervailing interests [ . . . ] Technology is involved in various privacy problems, as it facilitates the gathering, processing, and dissemination of information. Privacy problems, however, are caused not by technology alone, but primarily through activities of people, businesses, and the government. 2012 European Commision on Digital Privacy – Viviane Reding Beyond “to be left alone“ Privacy is the right to be forgotten 2012 Privacy in the Age of Big Data: A Time for Big Decisions (Stanford Law Review) – Omer Tene, Jules Polonetsky New New Technology, the Economy and Privacy Advances in data mining and analytics and the massive increase in computing power and data storage capacity have expanded, by orders of magnitude, the scope of information available to businesses, government, and individuals. In addition, the increasing number of people, devices, and sensors that are now connected by digital networks has revolutionized the ability to generate, communicate, share, and access data. Data create enormous value for the global economy, driving innovation, productivity, efficiency, and growth. At the same time, the “data deluge” presents privacy concerns that could stir a regulatory backlash, dampening the data economy and stifling innovation. 2012 Privacy by Design in the Age of Big Data – Ann Cavoukian, Jeff Jonas Privacy Is a Business Imperative, not only Compliance [Some] latest technology incorporates a number of Privacy by Design principles by default — demonstrating it is possible to advance privacy protections while at the same time preserving functionality in a ‘win-win,’ or positive sum paradigm. This work serves as a great example that consumer privacy is not simply a compliance issue but is in fact a business imperative. Responsible innovation practices such as these are critical in order to ensure that the new world we are now creating is one where privacy and civil liberties continue to prevail. 2015 General (Worldwide) Data Protection Regulation – EU draft of 2012 for 2015 Stop the Fragmentation of Personal Data Protection Heavy criticism has been expressed regarding the current fragmentation of personal data protection in the Union, in particular by economic stakeholders who asked for increased legal certainty and harmonisation of the rules on the protection of personal data. The complexity of the rules on international transfers of personal data is considered as constituting a substantial impediment to their operations as they regularly need to transfer personal data from the EU to other parts of the world.

About the author

SogetiLabs gathers distinguished technology leaders from around the Sogeti world. It is an initiative explaining not how IT works, but what IT means for business.


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