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Was This a Week of “Tangible” Privacy Harm?

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E
Photo taken from Ukranian protests in Kiev

Two events this week got me thinking of privacy harms. Now, I know the mere mention of “privacy harms” brings with it a lot of baggage and a ton of research, legal uncertainty, opinion and, well…ambiguity. I couldn’t possibly link to all the countless scholars, lawyers and activists who have tackled the question of what does, or does not, count as a harm, but I couldn’t help think that we may have seen some tangible harms we can all agree on this week.

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Practical Privacy

Privacy 101 for SMEs: The Best Defense is a Good Offense

By Omer Tene
and Marc Groman, CIPP/US

Imagine you are a major retailer and have to disclose a few days before Christmas that hackers stole credit card details and personal data on about –oh, 110 million shoppers –from your secure safe. Or that just as your app is experiencing hockey stick growth, leading tech blogs and media blast you for uploading users’ contact lists to your servers without permission.

Hearing news like this, you probably cringe at the thought that this might happen to you. But, of course, you are not a major retailer or global corporation, or even an app with tens of millions of users commanding media attention; you are a small or medium enterprise (SME), so you don’t have to worry, right? Wrong! Privacy and data security must be strategic considerations for every business, including garage entrepreneurs developing cool apps or analytics companies with half a dozen employees.

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Point-Counterpoint

So Glad You Didn’t Say That! A Response to Viktor Mayer-Schönberger

In response to my comments on an IAPP story, “Forget Notice and Choice, Let’s Regulate Use,” Viktor Mayer-Schönberger distances himself from views attributed to him by the IAPP, and positions taken in an earlier whitepaper.

My first thought when reading Mayer-Schönberger’s response was, “I’m so glad he didn’t mean that!” In sum, Mayer-Schönberger assures me that our views are aligned as follows: The belief that individuals have an interest in privacy protection; privacy should be anchored in the OECD Fair Information Practice Principles; the public should have control over their personal information, and privacy does not impede innovation. Allow me to assure all of you that in addition to the IAPP story, I have indeed viewed the video of Mayer-Schönberger’s Brussels keynote and have read the two papers he referenced.

More from Ann Cavoukian

Opinion

Eroding Trust: How New Smart TV Lacks Privacy by Design and Transparency

A year ago I got a new Samsung DVD player for Christmas. It’s a lovely device that I use most every day—mostly for streaming video from Netflix and Amazon. I apparently can also make Skype calls from it, though I haven’t tried — I’m told there are hundreds of other applications out there, so I’m probably underutilizing the device. But I’ve recently wondered—does Samsung log what I do on the player? Does it send information about my viewing back to Samsung. I . . . I guess I have no idea.

More from Justin Brookman

Transparency

What Acxiom Can Teach the NSA About Transparency

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

At last month’s IAPP Privacy Academy, I attended a session on “taming Big Data.” Much of the discussion involved the difficulties of conveying Big Data collection and use practices to consumers. As IAPP VP of Research Omer Tene has said, explaining the online tracking landscape would be equal to placing an average person in the cockpit of a fighter jet and asking him or her to fly it. Good luck with that.

Being transparent about such complex processes is understandably challenging for Big Data businesses and the privacy pros fully immersed in the weeds. We also hear folks talk about fostering consumer trust through corporate accountability. Good companies will be as transparent as possible, but must continuously demonstrate to their customers that they are trustworthy. Transparency is but one step toward a truly accountable organization and it’s a process that never really ends. 

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