Privacy in Digital Age: Dead or Alive?! Regarding the New EU Data Protection Regulations

Seyed Ebrahim Dorraji, Mantas Barcys

Abstract


Purpose – To review and critically discuss the current state of privacy in the context of constant technological changes and to emphasize the pace of technological advancements and developments reached over the time when the last EU data protection laws came into effect. These facts inevitably affect the perception of privacy and raise the question of whether privacy is dead or takes the last breath in the digital age? This paper is an attempt to address this question.
Design/Methodology/Approach – Based on the comparison and systematic analysis of scientific literature, the authors discuss problematic issues related to privacy and data protection in the technology era – where these issues are too complicated to be clearly regulated by laws and rules since “laws move as a function of years and technology moves as a function of months” (Ron Rivest). Therefore, this analytical approach towards the issue may help to facilitate reaching the best-fit decision in this area.
Findings – The authors emphasize the change of perception of privacy, which originated and grew on the idea of “an integral part of our humanity”, the “heart of our liberty” and “the beginning of all freedoms” (Solove, 2008), leading to the recently raised idea that privacy is severely hanging with threat. The authors are of the opinion that legislation and regulation may be one of the best and effective techniques for protecting privacy in the twenty-first century, but it is not currently adequate (Wacks, 2012). One of the solutions lies in technology design.
Research limitations/implications – The aspects of privacy and data protection in the European Union have been widely discussed recently because of their broad applicability. Therefore, it is hardly possible to review and cover all the important aspects of the issue. This article focuses on the roles of technology and legislation in securing privacy. The authors examine and provide their own views based on the critical analysis of the outstanding scientific material.
Practical implications – The authors highlight the ongoing change of perception of privacy. If regulation is left behind the development of technology, privacy will hardly stay alive. On the other hand, if legislation is applied on an ex-ante basis, technological development will depend on the legislators. The balance of both may be the golden means and it basically depends on the coordinated behavior of all the stakeholders.
Value – The article emphasizes that the rising role of sharp development of technology by itself does not violate privacy. It is the people using this technology and the policies they carry out that create violations (Garfinkel, 2000). In fact, threats, in the first instance, are the consequences of human behavior. In other words, technology can be a significant factor of violating or demolishing privacy, however, it may also be the major method of protecting it. The balance of both may be the key means.
Research type – general review.

Keywords


data protection; privacy; technology development; consent

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13165/ST-14-4-2-05

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