The future of privacy is a theme that strikes me directly. Will 'privacy' in ten years be different from what we know today?

I’m a lawyer by training and I know that the law evolves but I cannot get used to it in this context. Because in me lives a victim of violence on the internet, an experience I strongly wish that no girl, no woman would have to face.

So, when the discussion was starting, I went into the room with an empty head, ready to listen, give my opinion and challenge those who say that the future does not belong to us.

What I learned inspired me a lot. Many of the laws need to be reviewed in light of what we know about the internet. But also, two new rights emerged that are completely new to me. They incorporate the new dimensions that the internet adds to our lives: the right to accountability and the right to privacy from design. Users should be able to say: I may make these data available on the net today, but tomorrow, I do not want them to be visible, I shared with my consent then, but now, I do not want it visible anymore.

The thing that surprised me most is the effort to implement privacy rights through the design of technologies, applications and other internet tools and the way this effort is being viewed by different stakeholders.

The main body of those involved in data protection in the European Union are already thinking about it, making sure that the two newly defined rights are part of the legal arsenal. This is under review in the United States, but a regulator who was present at the meeting believes that it does not really make much sense, because many aspects of private life are already recorded in the use of existing technologies. One can guess the sexual orientation of Facebook user from their friend’s list, or by reading wall posts from a person's Blackberry. The dichotomy between surveillance, control and protection of privacy is a false one and should not be a problem.

But a third voice also held my attention, who says that it is possible to operationalize the two rights, but this operationalization must not rely just on technology, because there are aspects of law and other matters to consider.

It was a good session and I am proud to have chosen it even if the participants did not have time to ask any questions.

Responses to this post

Schmidt's, google's director, has recently shared with the wall street magazine () that people should be able to change their name when they reach adulthood in order to separate themselves from all sensitive data and silly stuffy they published via social media sites during their youth age. But there was a way of critiques that in couple of years from now it will not be probably difficult to link new name with your previous profile so it is hardly way out from privacy threats. Moreover i doubt it is only youth age when you do silly stuff online.
Much more interesting seems to be privacy protection proposal which builds on the contextual nature of digital identity. E.g people have multiply identities and which one you need select/reveal to represent yourselves (name, location, age, social-demographics, etc.) depends on the context, for example when you interact online with a bank vs. social network of people with similar interests vs. family. So you should be able to disclose only as much of your identity as necessary (more on this can be read here

Was also thinking, concepts of privacy have changed tremendously over the decades - but has legislation? And how much are these concepts and legislation following one specific culture's concept of privacy and personal rights. What has been our contribution as feminists when we make that which was considered private both public and political, like VAW? Very thought provoking post, Francoise, thanks

Interesting! Want to know more about the right to accountability - whose? The technology, service providers, users?? Thanks for this!

In reply to by ES (not verified)

According to what I understand so far, right to accountability include right to forget, for example the right for an adult to delete all the internet activities s/he did when s/he was young, if he think that it can damage his present image. But I’m sure you will agree with me that anyone can make a use of it. So I think this is a kind of self-accountability.
But accountability can also come from the service supplier who must be able to track all the way in which your information has been stored. They have the responsibility to tell us where our data are when we delete them and if they are really gone.
It means also the right to give consent for a given period only. May be we are heading towards a situation where our information will be self-destroying starting from an expiration date set by the subscriber.
But accountability is also the responsibility of the government, and all the people who are dealing with data. They should know that when we provide a data when registering for our identity card for instance, those data should not be used for another purpose. In the same way, they should communicate with us in advance on all the use they intend to do of the data we provide them. Hope this help..

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