Some Animals Are More Equal When it Comes to Digital Privacy
In a recent conversation with a colleague, it suddenly struck me that while I see lots of products and services (and budget dollars) supporting IT security, there are almost no products or services supporting privacy. Why is that?
Security is about protecting corporate data. But let’s look at the other side of security – privacy. Privacy is about protecting the use of personal data. Is my personal data any less important than a company’s confidential data? It shouldn’t be. According the U.S. Supreme Court we’re both “persons”. I’m feeling an Orwellian paranoia swelling up. Not the 1984 kind, but the Animal Farm kind.
“ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL, BUT SOME ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS”
In a private company, anything marked confidential is confidential. On the Web, things are much less clear. Is my phone number confidential or public information? What if I have an unlisted number? Is my location confidential? What about my name or email address? Sales people get sued over taking customer lists when they leave a company, so why would anyone or any company in their right mind think taking my address book is okay. And to add insult to injury, they profit from it. Really?!
While commendable in it’s intent, DNT is proving near impossible in its implementation. The cost to countless businesses to change their infrastructure and business models may prove too much for a multi-stakeholder initiative – many of whom are the people who either profit from cross-site tracking or have the greatest expense to adapt to the new standard. Organizations such as the ACLU and the Stanford Center for Internet and Society, are working hard to keep the task force on point, but once you throw in the legal and cultural differences from country to country and the task seems daunting.
Until each Web user has a clear choice over what data is shared, with whom, corporate persons will be more equal than you and me.