Privacy Dispatches

How Do You Engineer Privacy? NIST Seeks Answers

Last week, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) hosted a workshop to discuss and develop the concept of privacy engineering. Although a great deal was covered, three topics recurred throughout the workshop and appeared to be of special interest to NIST, most notably the lack of technical standards concerning privacy,the role engineers can play in protecting privacy and the role NIST should play in the privacy field going forward.

Privacy Profession

Engineers and Lawyers in Privacy Protection: Can We All Just Get Along?

By Peter Swire, CIPP/US

In March 2013 we participated in a panel titled “Re-Engineering Privacy Law” at the IAPP Privacy Summit. The topic of the panel closely matches the topic of this book, how to bring together and leverage the skill sets of engineers, lawyers, and others to create effective privacy policy with correspondingly compliant implementations. As a software engineering professor (Antón) and a law professor (Swire), we consider four points: (1) how lawyers make simple things complicated; (2) how engineers make simple things complicated; (3) why it may be reasonable to use the term “reasonable” in privacy rules but not in software specifications; and (4) how to achieve consensus when both lawyers and engineers are in the room.

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The Supreme Court Is Scared of Technology. This Is How Privacy Pros Can Help

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

This was a big week for emerging technology—particularly the Internet of Things (IoT)—as was showcased during the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, NV. Cisco’s CEO made headlines after saying the IoT has the potential to become a $19 trillion market and much of mainstream media reported on all the emerging technology: smart cars, wearable sensors and digestible computers—stuff we’ve been reporting on pretty regularly in the past year.

So it seemed fitting—and concerning—that the Associated Press reported on the wariness felt by Supreme Court justices on judges weighing in on technology and privacy issues. As Justice Elena Kagan said last summer, “The justices are not necessarily the most technologically sophisticated people.”  And the court may face it’s biggest challenge yet, if, as many suspect, it eventually weighs in on the NSA’s metadata collection programs. Justice Antonin Scalia told a group of technology experts last July that elected branches of government are better equipped to grapple with security requirements and privacy protections.

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The Big Data Fight and What We Can Learn from Adam, Eve and Aldous Huxley

By Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/US, CIPP/E

In the privacy world, we often hear the argument that, in order for the information economy to thrive, personal privacy must be leveraged—that there must be tradeoffs. In a recent blog post on the supposed death of privacy, I quoted a Harvard professor from 1970 as saying that a world with complete privacy is a utopian concept.

Enter Carnegie Mellon University researcher Alessandro Acquisti. This week, the well-known TED Talk series released a presentation by Acquisti from earlier this summer on “Why Privacy Matters”—and he kicked it off with the story of Adam and Eve, the original residents of the original utopia, and “their notorious privacy incident”:

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