European Commission pushes for privacy tools for users

Amid growing concerns over online privacy, the European Commission is looking to the IT sector to develop privacy enhancing technologies or Pets, which give users control over how their data is used.

Amid growing concerns over online privacy, the European Commission is looking to the IT sector to develop privacy enhancing technologies or Pets, which give users control over how their data is used.

Examples include

• Encrypted biometric access systems that allow the use of a fingerprint to authenticate an individual's identity, but do not retain the actual fingerprint

• "Sticky" electronic privacy policies that are attached to the information itself to stop it being used in any way that is not compatible with that policy

• Software that allows browsers to detect automatically the privacy policy of websites and compares it to the preferences expressed by the user, highlighting any clashes.

Three UK government-sponsored knowledge transfer networks responsible for location and timing, sensors and cyber security are combining forces to address the implications of the EC's proposals.

Sally Purdie, director of the Location and Timing KTN, said, "Today's approach to privacy is often to develop technologies based on the needs of the supplier, not the user. But things are changing. Users are the ones making demands and their right to control their own information is taking precedence."




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