Opinion

Shutting Europe Down Is Not the Way To Defend Privacy

By Eduardo Ustaran, CIPP/E

When I was at university, I remember a lecturer who used to say the first rule that any law degree student should follow was “to not panic.” That is a rule that we should all apply when reading the draft report of the LIBE Committee of the European Parliament on the NSA surveillance programme. The prospect of a closed-down Europe that is advocated by the report is certainly daunting. Shutting down pretty much all transatlantic data flows in order to prevent unreasonable access to data by the U.S. intelligence services would not only be disproportionate, but it would be hugely damaging to the information society we all rely on.

More from Eduardo Ustaran

EU-U.S. Relations

The Brussels and Warsaw Privacy Peace Talks

Next month, FTC Commissioner Julie Brill and Danny Sepulveda, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, will travel to Brussels to discuss privacy with EU officials. Later in the month, Poland will host the 35th Conference of Data Protection of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, a meeting that will be attended by privacy officials and stakeholders from around the world.  Both gatherings provide an opportunity to declare a cease fire in the war of words—a war in which most of the “incoming” has originated on the European side of the Atlantic in the wake of the Snowden NSA revelations, and a war that threatens progress in international cooperation on privacy.

More from Christopher Wolf

Navigate

It’s About Data Assets, Not Privacy, Or Is It?

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

In his discussion of Universal People Sensors in Portsmouth, NH, earlier this summer, Alex “Sandy” Pentland made the case for the benefits of Big Data. He said it’s not about privacy, it’s about using data as an asset. For Pentland, the question is, “Who controls the data, and can you be secure in sharing it for particular purposes?”

As co-leader of the World Economic Forum Big Data and Personal Data Initiatives and employee at MIT, Pentland presented a slew of examples bolstering the need for collecting vast sets of information in order to track and better learn about our world. (My colleague Emily Leach wrote a great piece on some of Pentland’s work here.) It can help travelers drive more safely, better connect those suffering from mental health issues with others and track infectious diseases.

More from Jedidiah Bracy

Opinion

Privacy and the City

By David Hoffman, CIPP/US

I have written on the need for adequate privacy protections to allow individuals to exercise their Right to Fail. For people to come together to collaborate and innovate, we need to make certain individuals can try new ideas. We need people to take risks and often fail, without running the risk that every failure will be catalogued forever in a virtual permanent record and those failures will be retrievable with a simple Internet search or report from a data aggregator/broker. People are inherently social and want to collaborate and innovate, but we need to create the right privacy policy environment to both foster that innate desire and protect individuals from counterproductive consequences from our social nature.

Edward Glaeser wrote on just this topic in his excellent book, Triumph of the City: How our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier and Happier . The book describes how cities have historically been the engines of innovation as they bring people together to collaborate and create.

More from David Hoffman

Opinion

The Impact of PRISM on International Data Flows

By Eduardo Ustaran, CIPP/E

An exasperatingly awkward challenge affecting the current data globalisation process is the prohibition on exports of data that is present in a number of the world’s data privacy laws.  This is something that European organisations have had to live with since the mid-90s, and frustratingly, the trend is being extended to other jurisdictions. Disregarding the reality of Internet and mobile communications, some policy-makers and regulators insist on building some sort of physical or at least digital fortress around the data within their jurisdiction with the aim of preventing unwanted interferences. In the most extreme cases, international data flows are only allowed under the express authorisation of a national regulator that will seek to scrutinise the safeguards in place to the finest detail.

More from Eduardo Ustaran