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Trouble with Science’s special issue on privacy is that it’s called “The End of Privacy”

scienceThe prestigious Science magazine’s issue released today is dedicated to Privacy. The only problem is that it’s title is “The End of Privacy”. This statement is too dramatic. I don’t think we are facing the end of privacy, but the explosion of privacy invading technologies and practices.

Privacy as an inherent human value cannot disappear.

Privacy as the web of legal protection is not likely to disappear soon. Au contraire. It is likely it will be developed and taken more and more seriously.

The fact remains that privacy is under siege. But if scientific magazines are starting to publish entire issues on this topic, it would be more useful if they would not declare privacy dead, but figure out ways to construe a stronger web (technical, legal or whatever else nature) of protecting privacy.

Never-mind the title. Beyond it, there are some interesting articles:

1) Privacy and human behavior in the age of information, by Alessandro Acquisti, Laura Brandimarte and George Loewenstein.

2) Could your pacemaker be hackable?, by Daniel Clery (Medical devices connected to the Internet are vulnerable to sabotage or data theft).

3) Hiding in plain sight, by Jia You. (Software lets you use location-based apps without revealing where you are).

4) Control use of data to protect privacy, by Susan Landau (“..But notice, designated as a fundamental privacy principle in a different era, makes little sense in situations where collection consists of lots and lots of small amounts of information, whereas consent is no longer realistic, given the complexity and number of decisions that must be made. Thus, efforts to protect privacy by controlling use of data are gaining more attention…”)

While at it, also check my CPDP 2013 paper (presented two years ago at the conference in Brussels and published that year in a Springer volume edited by the organisers of the conference), Forgetting about consent. Why the focus should be on suitable safeguards in data protection law.

In conclusion, no, this is not the end of privacy. This is just the middle of a very, very difficult fight to protect privacy.