The other night I got into a discussion with a friend about personal privacy.
He said, “Most people would find me very boring. Why privacy? Why should I care if they look at my stuff online?”
If you’ve got nothing to hide, why should data privacy concern you?
Apart from the temptation to ask for all of his account passwords and browser history so I could publish them online (my usual response), it inspired me to address the fundamental question, why is privacy important?
I should start by saying I love the modern era and all that technology does for us.
I use a mobile phone, I bank online, I have an online presence, I use cloud technologies to store data, and I now collaborate with colleagues across the globe in ways not possible just a few years ago.
But it also has given me a keen awareness of the risks.
I understand that when I get something for free, there is a price to pay, and part of that price is handing over my personal information.
What we should all be asking ourselves is, Is the trade of my personal information worth it?
Why Privacy is Important
Data is now bigger, social, global and mobile
People have never been so connected. We put our innermost thoughts and communications in electronic records, we stamp these with our location and we carry all this data in our pockets.
“Global internet users have climbed to 4.95 billion at the start of 2022, with internet penetration now standing at 62.5 percent of the world’s total population.”
And now we’re bringing them into our homes, cars, etc. – it is a race to connect everything and gather data from it.
Big data may bring new insights and advantages, but the greater the aggregation the more the potential damage grows.
Connection makes separation harder to achieve
I welcome people finding me on LinkedIn, but I don’t want them to be able to reach me at home and intrude on my family time.
Many people now use the same devices for work and home purposes. Systems track and monitor our movements, payments, and preferences on a global scale.
We are connected in our activities and we leave digital footprints wherever we go.
Privacy is a very personal matter for every individual, so it’s essential that people understand how data collection and data privacy works in today’s connected world.
Access is easier, data footprints are permanent
We should be allowed to move on from the mistakes of our youth when we move on to adulthood. This can be difficult when our data footprint online is permanent.
Without carefully policed retention periods these permanent, digital records can ruin lives, as the mistakes of the past can come back to haunt us.
These mistakes can be easily shared and found by employers. I’m not necessarily arguing the case for a “right to be forgotten,” but more of a “right to rehabilitate.”
Privacy Matters Because it’s the Right Thing to do
Clearly, transparency and accountability are important for businesses and consumers. However, privacy need not be an annoyance or a compliance issue that causes pain to a business.
None of the global privacy standards and laws require anything else other than good information governance and management.
Strong privacy practices, including transparency, can bring dividends to an organization in terms of efficiency, economies, and most importantly, increased consumer trust.