John Terra
John Terra 8 July 2015

Dealing With Data Privacy In A Digital World

Data privacy has a lot of people concerned, making them distrust the latest innovations, much to their detriment.

Whenever a new technology becomes commonplace, it is necessary to take a good hard look at how it affects our everyday lives. We live in the Information Age, with greater amounts of data becoming accessible with greater ease and speed, all thanks to such new advances.

This becomes a "good news, bad news" situation, in that while it’s good that there’s so much information that can be swiftly and conveniently accessed (not to mention easily backed up and preserved), it also opens the door to abuses and threatens the privacy of the everyday user.

Data privacy has a lot of people concerned, making them distrust the latest innovations,much to their detriment

This is an especially acute concern when it comes to people’s health records, for instance. According to the article "Easing Patient Security Fears About Electronic Medical Records", a survey conducted by Xerox showed that roughly 63% of the patients surveyed were certain that their medical records were more vulnerable in digital format than in traditional paper form.

So, how do we deal with data privacy today?

Types Of Privacy
According to a European paper released by Michael Friedwald, there are seven distinct types of privacy (and consequently, seven different opportunities for that privacy to be infringed upon). Those would be privacies of ...

The Person: This is the right to keep bodily characteristics and functions private.

Behavior And Action: This covers things like sexual preference, religious affiliation, and political activities.

Communication: People have the expectation of freedom from bugs, electronic eavesdropping, opening mail, and more. In other words, it’s the right to privacy in conversations.

Data And Image: This is a big one, because it deals with making sure that a user’s data isn’t automatically available to outsiders, be they people or companies. It also covers the expectation that people have a say over how their data is used.

Thoughts And Feelings: Basically, people have the right to think and feel what they like, without having those attitudes shared against their will.

Location and Space: The expectation that people can get around without having their movements tracked.

Association: The final one is the right to associate with individuals or groups without being monitored.

So there you have it; seven different types of privacy, each one involving the creation, gathering, storage, and use of raw data and information. People rightfully have concerns and expectations of how their private information is collected, stored, and disseminated.

What Needs To Be Done
When it comes to dealing with the issue of data privacy for the purposes of fostering and maintaining consumer confidence, communication and transparency are a must, particularly in two key areas.

First of all, consumers who store their data in the cloud need to understand what measures are being taken to keep their data safe. Cloud data storage companies need to be clear about how secure their information is, all the while making sure the customer knows that no system is infallible.

Secondly, consumers need to understand exactly what their rights are concerning their data. For instance, who actually owns the data? There needs to be a clear privacy policy in place, which the customer must absolutely read and sign, attesting that they are fully aware of their rights.

In addition to these two main points, there are a few other issues that bear mentioning. People need to be educated on how they can keep data safe on their end, such as with better password selections. Articles like "Personal Data Safety Tips And Tricks" help to educate users on better data safety, for instance.

Also, many people have an intrinsic distrust of new tech, and they need to be shown that cloud data is just as safe as the more old-fashioned methods of data storage. In fact, it’s easier to track down a data loss (and maybe even the culprit) by electronic means than it is to notice the loss of actual physical documents that contain sensitive information.

Cloud storage is a convenient, flexible, and cost-effective means of storing data. The technology behind storage and security methods is constantly improving. With a little common sense and some prudent security practices on the part of the end users, cloud storage turns out to be a low-risk means of data storage.

Find out more on the future of Technology at our DLUK - Trends Briefing on the 24th September 2015

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