Last week's column on the Data Protection and Privacy Commissioner's conference has generated a fair amount of attention. As I noted in my blog posting, the column was based on my concluding remarks in the final plenary of that conference. The Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada has now […]
Post Tagged with: "terra incognita"
The Future of Privacy: Privacy Threats No Longer “Terra Incognita”
Last week the privacy world gathered in Montreal for the most important global privacy conference on the calendar. The International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioner's conference brings together hundreds of privacy commissioners, government regulators, business leaders, and privacy advocates who spend three days grappling with emerging issues. I was privileged to be asked to provide some concluding remarks in the final plenary and my weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, Ottawa Citizen version, homepage version) is a shortened version of that address.
This year's conference theme was "Terra Incognita," a reference to the unknown lands that typify the fear of the unknown in a world of rapidly changing technologies that challenge the core principles of privacy protection. Yet despite a dizzying array of panels on new technologies such as ubiquitous computing, radio frequency identification devices (RFID), and nanotechnology, it was a reference by U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff to a simple fingerprint that struck the strongest chord.
Canada last hosted the conference in 1996 and it quickly became apparent that privacy has become virtually unrecognizable in the intervening eleven years. The technological challenges were on display throughout the event including eye-opening presentations on the privacy impact of popular children's websites such as Webkinz and Neopets, on genetic innovation that is pushing the boundaries of science without regard for privacy, and on the continual shift toward tiny devices that can be used to collect and disclose personal information.
The conference placed the spotlight the growing "toolkit" of responses, including privacy audits of both public and private sector organizations, privacy impact assessments that are used to gauge the effect of new regulations and corporate initiatives, trust seals that include corporate compliance programs, and emphasis on global cooperation in a world where personal data slips effortlessly across borders. While the effectiveness of these measures has improved in recent years, there remained a pervasive sense that these responses are inadequate.
Privacy Threats No Longer ‘Terra Incognita’
Appeared in the Toronto Star on October 1, 2007 as Privacy Threats Are No Longer 'Terra Incognita' Last week the privacy world gathered in Montreal for the most important global privacy conference on the calendar. The International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioner's conference brings together hundreds of privacy commissioners, government […]