I was asked by a colleague to put together some notes on privacy, government and young people – I thought’d I’d share the results, if only to prove that this blog is still alive! I’d point out that though I do have a general knowledge of data protection and compliance issues, I’m neither a lawyer, nor a specialist in privacy.
Data protection and the so-called “Safe Harbor”
My personal opinion is that the EU (or at least the part that is concerned to protect citizens’ data) is generally a force for good, compared to most governments at least, eg in trying to force the UK government to tighten up on the current Data Protection legislation, and planning for improvements in the Data Protection directive [PDF] – thought there might be some issues with the implementing the details.
I think some of the biggest risks come from US-based private companies like Google and Facebook – as the recent case with Google Street View wifi-collection shows, the Safe Harbour rules are not enforced in any meaningful way by the USA, which gives them a commercial advantage at the expense of (a) EU-based competitors and (b) ordinary citizens.
Behind any organisation that collects data for storage in the USA, there is the Patriot Act which gives the security services access to the data they collect. I think that even RIPA, the UK law that governs how police access data does not go as far as that. You can find some relevant stories here.
This story from May 2009 gives the current UK context: “The Government has rejected claims that it is conducting too much surveillance on citizens and has said that it has got the balance between surveillance and liberty right. It has rejected many recommendations recently made by the House of Lords.” The government has changed since then, and there is a now little more emphasis on privacy, but how long that will last is an interesting question.
One other story that needs to be included: ‘Surveillance state still expanding‘
Information commissioner Christopher Graham is pressing ministers for new privacy safeguards in the wake of a report by the Surveillance Studies Network (SSN) that suggests moves towards a surveillance society are expanding and intensifying. (Guardian Kable, 12 November)
Although it may be that initially there was not so much of an awareness, young people are becoming more aware of issues around privacy, and how to manage it as a LSE study shows (UK commentary here), so it is not true to say that young people don’t care as much about privacy.
Danah Boyd writes well on young peoples’ perspective of the internet, from an American perspective. She gives one recent story that gives an example of how far young people can go to control Facebook privacy if they have to.
Finally, Edinburgh Napier coordinates the HUWY project (www.huwy.eu) – and you might find some of the discussion on youth perspectives on the risks of the internet there – Google translate may be needed. Tell me if you want to find out more about this project.
In conclusion, you can find more links and stories on the subject I’ve noted on Delicious covering
No apologies for using the Register as the source for a lot of this information!