Data, Privacy, and the Individual

Center for the Governance of Change (2020)
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Abstract
The first few years of the 21st century were characterised by a progressive loss of privacy. Two phenomena converged to give rise to the data economy: the realisation that data trails from users interacting with technology could be used to develop personalised advertising, and a concern for security that led authorities to use such personal data for the purposes of intelligence and policing. In contrast to the early days of the data economy and internet surveillance, the last few years have witnessed a rising concern for privacy. As bad data practices have come to light, citizens are starting to understand the real cost of using online digital technologies. Two events stamped 2018 as a landmark year for privacy: the Cambridge Analytica scandal, and the implementation of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The former showed the extent to which personal data has been shared without data subjects’ knowledge and consent and many times for unacceptable purposes, such as swaying elections. The latter inaugurated the beginning of robust data protection regulation in the digital age. Getting privacy right is one of the biggest challenges of this new decade of the 21st century. The past year has shown that there is still much work to be done on privacy to tame the darkest aspects of the data economy. As data scandals continue to emerge, questions abound as to how to interpret and enforce regulation, how to design new and better laws, how to complement regulation with better ethics, and how to find technical solutions to data problems. The aim of the research project Data, Privacy, and the Individual is to contribute to a better understanding of the ethics of privacy and of differential privacy. The outcomes of the project are seven research papers on privacy, a survey, and this final report, which summarises each research paper, and goes on to offer a set of reflections and recommendations to implement best practices regarding privacy.
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First archival date: 2020-03-06
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