Privacy, Rights and Responsibilities
In a world where technology innovation happens faster that the laws that govern the use of technology, we are exposed to potential uses of technology that are not well governed. In particular, our information that we consider private or confidential, may be accessed, shared, and used in ways we would not want.
What is Personal Privacy
There is no one definition of privacy and in particular what should be private or public.
Privacy can perhaps be defined as a state, free from public attention, in which one is not observed or disturbed by others. In some parts of the world, privacy is defined as the right to be left alone, or freedom from interference or intrusion.
Information privacy is the right to have some control over how your personal information is collected and used.
There are many aspects relating to privacy and they differ across cultures based on cultural sensitivities, and a sense of dignity.
As we embrace digital technologies and services, the risk of unintentional or malicious access to information increases.
- Physical Privacy – preventing others from intruding into your physical space – this could be protection of modesty by wearing clothes, building walls, fences, partitions and keeping a certain distance. Preventing access to your home or car, preventing searches or taking of pictures and videos. Safekeeping and prevention of access to computers that are the window into the internet and associated online services.
- Information Privacy – This is related to concern about how uniquely identifiable data relating to individuals is collected, stored, analysed and shared. The ownership of the information is also a concern. This information is typically used for individual to gain access to online services and protection of this is crucial.
- Financial Privacy – Bank accounts and transaction records. This information must be protected and efforts made to eliminate risk of fraud and identity theft
- Internet Privacy – What one shares or choose not to share. Email content, web activity history etc. Concern over who collects information and what they do with it.
Resource: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Privacy (Accessed 23 May 2018)
Privacy and the Law
Living in a society, real or digital, means we should conform with the laws, values, norms and ethics in that society. We need to respects the rights of others in the society as we would like our rights to be respected.
Laws are evolving to deal with the digital world. By way of example, in South Africa we have seen the introduction of:
- POPI – The Protection of Personal Information Act
- Drone Laws – South Africa leads the world in terms of drone regulations
Where laws do not exist to protect us, we need to rely on moral and ethical behaviour as our guideline. Consider the following as basic examples that raise issues concerning privacy and information rights:
- Can we photograph other peoples children and use them as we see fit
- Can we follow people and record their information, habits and activities and share that information with others
- Do we have the right to record conversations without permission
- Can we fly drones wherever we choose and record videos
- Can we copy documents and web content that belongs to others and use it for our purposes
- Who can access customer information at banks, retailers, insurers and other consumer service companies.
- Who has a right to know how much we earn, where we live and work, what accounts we have.
- Who has a right to know our medical history, or even our criminal history.
So, we really need to decide what we consider private, and what can be in the public domain. We need to manage our own sharing of information as best we can.