Welcome to the Privacy, Identity and Consent blog. Not the snappiest title for an online soapbox, but then this isn’t a simple subject area. Consumer awareness of privacy – and what happens when it goes wrong – is fast becoming one of the most important data governance issues for public authorities and private companies. Data managers are finally realising that personal information has a hard cash value, and can carry even greater liability if it is misused. We need to get this right, yet we understand so little about it.
Privacy isn’t like security. There aren’t any internationally accepted standards for privacy. Data Protection laws are the closest we get, but they vary wildly from country to country around the world. And there’s no correct answers for how much privacy each of us should have – we all have a right to privacy, but we can’t guess how much privacy another person might want, and that privacy need changes all the time.
Worse still, there’s no clear business case for privacy. Sure, we implement data protection compliance, but for most companies that’s because we have to, rather than because we want to. Try telling an executive board that they have to spend money on privacy and see how far you get. What we do know is that delivering privacy to consumers requires a complex interchange of consent, context and compliance. Identity management technologies are critical to the success of privacy, but get them wrong and they can destroy it in an instance. That’s when people get upset, and this emotional aspect makes it hard to discuss some of the more sensitive aspects of the subject: those who believe in ‘nothing to hide, nothing to fear’ see privacy advocates as tin-foil-hat wearing fools, and what the most extreme activists think of state-sponsored identity schemes isn’t repeatable here. The National Identity Scheme is the elephant in the room here, and is a topic that’s likely to arise time and again in our discussions. So what’s this blog about? Well, as you can see, I don’t fully know myself. I’ll be looking for guidance from my fellow bloggers, and most importantly want to hear what you think. Maybe we can come up with some answers – and once we know what it’s about we’ll have a snappier blog title.