Blog (updated 15 June 2016): There’s a battle of words going on, the battle is about the definition of “privacy”, and it’s been going on for centuries. Somehow we’ve led ourselves to believe that the definition of privacy that we all think we share is something intrinsically connected to the individual. But actually it’s not. Although privacy as such is in fact only something the individual can claim (corporations and states cannot), the individual has always been very absent in the very construction of the concept.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
This January the European Data Protection Supervisor presented his new “Ethics Advisory Group”. A group of experts that will help him “reconsider the ethical dimension of the relationships between human rights, technology, markets and business models and their implications for the rights to privacy and data protection in the digital environment.” He is not the first European decision maker or thought leader to bring forward ethics as a guiding principle in the digital age. Over the last year digital ethics, and in particular data ethics, have become the “talk of the town” in Europe. Based on the realisation that laws have not followed pace with the development of digital technologies, technologists, academics, policymakers and businesses are today revisiting cultural values and moral systems when groping for a new ethical framework for the digital age.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
How can we question the ethics of a service if we don’t have access to the details of how it is designed to act on data? How can we put a health warning on a product if we don’t know the ingredients?
AWARENESS RAISING: Lovisa Inserra from our Global Privacy as Innovation Network has made some great interviews for the network at the Internet Days in Sweden November 2014. Here’s one of my favourites with Annie Machon: http://vimeo.com/112891036 We want to continue talking with experts, advocates, academics, activists etc. about privacy and innovation in the digital age. Keep an eye for future interviews by Lovisa on the networks site
TALKS & EVENTS: Key experts from an interdiciplinary field met in Copenhagen in November 2014 to discuss privacy as innovation.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
If you mentioned privacy and data protection in a discussion about digital media business innovation, data portability and social sharing a few years ago, you would most certainly have been viewed as a spoilsport. But do the same today and you might actually assert yourself as a great innovator.
(IGF) Workshop (308) Background Paper and video of workshop.
“Privacy enhancing technology” is a new concept, but not a new invention. Throughout history conceptual, legal and societal challenges to the private sphere of people have always inspired innovative inventions.
“Privacy is an obstacle to innovation”. This is a common argument when policy debates on privacy protection in the digital age reach the negotiation tables. And it seems to be the main argument behind the heavy lobbying efforts invested by the industry in the discussions flourishing around the EU data protection reform. Thinking about the “Cloud” and “Big Data”, where data portability since the dawn of the digital age has been the essence of innovative development, it does indeed sound as an obstacle to then want to “protect data”. The concepts Portability and Protection do not sound very well in constellation. But it is all noise. How about embracing the opportunities of the open net and the autonomous private sphere simultaneously? All we need is a different mindset, business model and tool kit.
Privacy is still a social norm – in one form or another – but for sure the way in which we administer our privacy in the open networks has transformed. When we stop being able to control our privacy with “physical borders”, we start policing them with other forms of limits – social and cultural. Borders that are more invisible; tied up with shared values and social rules – but nonetheless relevant to be able to interpret and administer. This new container of privacy is emerging steadily alongside the development of the open networks. Its more “silent” in the sense that if you need to understand how it works, you need to look at other things than e.g. people’s use of their “privacy settings” or whether they choose to be on Facebook or not. Because this is a different form of privacy administration that does not take point of departure in the actual architecture of the various services.