Chairs: Mònica Vilasau, Lecturer, School of Law and Political Science (UOC).
Yves Poullet. Rector of the University of Namur (Belgium). Professor at the Faculty of Law at the University of Namur (UNamur) and Liège (Ulg).
A new Privacy age: towards a citizen’s empowerment: New issues and new challenges
Changes in the technological landscape
Characteristics of the new information systems, between Tera and Nano. More ability to store speech, data, images. Increasing capacity as regards the transmission. Increasing capacity as regards the processing. increasing capacity as regards the storage capacity. On the other end, multiplication of terminal devices which are now ubiquitous (GPS, RFID, mobiles, human implants…).
New applications. New ways to collect data, especially through web 2.0 platforms (social networking sites, online services…) and ambient intelligence (RFID, bodies’ implants…). And new ways of data storage, such as cloud computing.
We have to acknowledge that we increasingly have less control and even ownership of our own data, which “live in the cloud”. And, indeed, neither we know where data is, in what territory, and which laws affect them.
New methods of data processing. Profiling, a method using three steps: data warehouse, data mining, profiling of individuals. Neuroelectronics, which is the possibility to modify the functioning of our brain (through body implants and brain computer interfaces, e.g. to stimulate the memory function or to reduce stress). Affective computing, on how to interpret feelings (e.g. facial movements) and to adapt the environment or to take decisions on the basis of that interpretation.
New actors. Stantardisation of terminals of communication, protocols, led by private organizations (IETF, W3C) and not by public/international ones. New emerging actors, such as the terminals’ producers, which lack regulation upon their behaviour, without “technology control”. New gatekeepers. Blurring of borders and, with them, blurring of states’ sovereignty.
The legal answer: privacy or/and data protection
Initially, privacy was understood as a right to opacity, the right to be left alone. Progressively data protection as a new constitutional right besides privacy, a way of re-establishing a certain equilibrium between the informational powers, a right to self determination, to control the flows of one’s informational image.
- Legitimacy of the processing.
- Right to a transparent processing for the data subject.
- Data protection authority (a new actor) as a balance keeper.
There is a trend of understanding privacy with the negative approach without reference to the large ‘privacy’ concept. We need to reassess the value of data protection today. We need to accurately manage the delicate balance between the need for intermitent retreat from others and the need for interaction and cooperation with others (cf. Arendt), now that there is a pervasive Lacanian “extimacy” due to social networking sites.
New privacy risks:
- Opacity, and the risks of anticipatory conformism.
- Decontextualization, data collected in one context might be used in another context.
- Reductionism, from individual to her data and finally to her profile by using data related to other people.
- Increasing assymmetry, between the informational powers of, from one part, the data subject and, from the other part, the data controller.
- Towards a suveillance society.
- Abolition of some rights.
The human facing ICTs: a man traced and surveyed, a man “without masks”, a reduced man, a man normalized. Where it is question of dignity, of individual self-determination, of social justice and… definitively democracy. Privacy — which is much more than data protection — should be seen as self-development.
New rights of the data subject: right to be forgotten, right to data portability.
10th Internet, Law and Politics Conference (2014)
If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:
Peña-López, I. (2014) “IDP2014 (IX). Yves Poullet: A new Privacy age: towards a citizen’s empowerment: New issues and new challenges” In ICTlogy,
#130, July 2014. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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