Hasta La Vista Privacy, or How Technology Terminated Privacy
PERSONAL DATA PRIVACY AND PROTECTION IN A SURVEILLANCE ERA: TECHNOLOGIES AND PRACTICES, Christina Akrivopoulou & Athanasios-Efstratios Psygkas, eds., IGI Global, November 2010
16 Pages Posted: 24 Apr 2011 Last revised: 11 Mar 2014
Date Written: November 1, 2010
The destructive effects of digital technology on privacy are by now well documented, and it is usually assumed that the law's role is to avert overexposure of people's personal information. This essay takes a different view by arguing that the trajectory of technological developments renders the expansive collection of personal data inevitable, and hence the law’s primary interest should lie in regulating the use - not the collection - of information. This deterministic approach does not foreshadow the end of privacy, but rather suggests a necessary reconceptualization of privacy in the digital era. Along those lines we first need to acknowledge that it is voluntarily that people increasingly sacrifice some of their privacy to enjoy the benefits of technology. Second, the ready availability of a huge volume of personal information creates attention scarcity, such that the chances a person’s privacy will be intruded are diminished. Most importantly, though, once the law accepts the inevitability of the collection of personal information, it will be best in the position to focus attention on ensuring that the collected information is appropriately used, instead of wasting resources on trying to hinder in vain its collection. This more realistic approach calls for alternative means of regulation, like self-regulation or emphasis on informed consent and transparency, and facilitates the flow of information by reducing the transactional cost of its sharing and dissemination.
Keywords: privacy, technology, technological, determinism, digital, cloud, personal data
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