There have been many voices saying that privacy is dead, as it is so easy to breach: content-rich transactions and social media data trail combined with our mobile location makes us an easy target for profiling and other types of privacy intrusion. The question is therefore automatically raised: how does data protection regulation apply to our online world as it is today?
Regardless of whether breaches are really that easy (remember analogue telephones that anyone with a pair of wires and headphones was able to wiretap), these voices fundamentally miss the point of regulation: it is the very fact that something is not self-regulating, coupled with the society’s values, that calls for regulatory action.
Imagine the early days of road traffic: I am pretty sure there were people saying putting up traffic signs made no sense because people were still going to drive the way they used to – and for quite a while they probably did.
However, these voices are a reflection of something else that especially European data protection law has had a problem with: reflexivity when it comes not only to market realities, but also people’s attitudes and actual behaviour.
In a world where we are all fed up with ‘cookie notices’, even if we are privacy freaks, the making of individuals’ consent for data processing even more complex probably makes little sense. And to be clear, being fed up with legal notices does not necessarily mean that we are as citizens no longer concerned with privacy, as the recent class action against Facebook shows. We simply do not consider being bombarded with legal information as relevant means of protecting our personal data. If someone considered mandatory ‘speed kills’ signs on the back of every vehicle as means of preventing traffic accidents, one should be able to dismiss it as ludicrous without being branded an ‘enemy of road safety’.
In our webinars ‘Big Data and Mobile Business: Opportunities, Privacy and Data Protection’ and ‘Big Data and Mobile Commerce: What it Means for Privacy and Data Protection’ to be held 21 and 22 January respectively we will thus focus on both smart compliance with today’s rules, as well as more future-proof regulatory solutions in a world of big data that is created on the move and made available to multiple actors.