Sarah Byrt, IP partner, Mayer Brown

New world, same old Europe

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  • What about the insurer who refuses insuring someone because the data collected, processed and sold by the APP operator indicates an alternative life style? Are you preaching or advocating (perhaps sponsored by Google, Facebook or another data merchant) for the end of privacy? People should have a private sphere shouldn't they? Alternatively we are all given a barcode upon birth and then have everything recorded and monitored under the flag of convenience.

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  • Jose, you make a very interesting point.
    We are not advocating the end of privacy and the views we have expressed here are strictly our own. But, having said that, what is clear is that there is a growing proportion of the population who are already prepared to broadcast many aspects of their personal lives online and via apps on their mobiles.
    This information could, of course, be of immense value to business and there is a danger that people could feel coerced into or penalised for disclosing it or not disclosing it. But do these developments demonstrate that preconceptions of what is truly private information are changing? It is not hard to imagine that in the world of the near future, there will be a significant segment of the population that will be more than happy to “sell” their data in order to get a better deal for themselves whenever possible. Yet, in many ways, the draft regulation just reinforces the status quo. It says that we must maintain the same principles, the same concepts of privacy and how to protect it as conceived in the last century.
    Is this right? The European Commission says that it is; that there are a large number of people who are ignorant about how the personal information that they are sharing about themselves could affect their lives and their interests must be protected in substantially the same way with extensive, bureaucratic safeguards of giving notices, satisfying conditions and/or obtaining consent. But is this true and, if so, will it be true in the future? Of course, there will always be some people who might not understand how their information could be used, but how relevant will these concepts be to your average tech-wise, device laden, connected to everyone person of the future? And should it be for the European Commission to hand down a definition of privacy that we should be aspiring to protect, or should the law reflect our shifting interpretations of what we are willing to share and when?

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