MPC – Practical Privacy Insight Series (contributor Teri Truang, Toronto Lawyer)
Technology and Transparency – can they co-exist?
Regulators think so but at the moment there is a battle between these two Titans.
With technology advancing at the speed of light, the ability to collect vast amounts of data can be quick and inconspicuous. It is currently the case with Google Analytics and the Real Time Bidding that has been going on for over a decade. Entities operating this way have chosen to keep their practices in the dark, instead of sharing or being transparent about it to the affected consumers.
In response, a number of bills have been introduced in the US to compensate for the lack of a federal level Privacy Law. US lawmakers have introduced five bills aimed at limiting the power held by Big Tech companies.
The bills were drafted after a 16-month investigation into the powers of Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook. They address topics including data, mergers, and the competitive behavior of these companies – which could ultimately lead to them being forced to sell some assets. It is clear to a lot of lawmakers that technology develops a lot faster than privacy laws get revised and passed, so a mechanism needs to exist to hold technology makers to account.
Current practices equate transparency with providing notice and online privacy notice (also known as website privacy policies) to inform users of the data collection process and their rights. Very few though provide the correct opt-out options or any choice towards better privacy and less invasiveness.
So, the question remains: is it possible for technology and transparency to co-exist? The answer could be a yes, but it requires a lot of thinking and innovation to address privacy requirements correctly and fairly.
Companies developing technology work towards making a profit which will inevitably lead them to protect their intellectual property and they can only keep up their edge by involving algorithms and processes that add to the data sets and behaviors.
Legally, technology is now the lynch pin when it comes to transferring data across jurisdictions and many new laws, like in China and Russia call technologies to “heel” to ensure they are in control of the data flowing through those technologies.
Current online notices on websites do not truly reflect transparency, because users rarely have the patience to read the convoluted and long legal text. However, but we are starting to see statements on websites that reveal which data processing activities are happening where, in Data Transfers Impact reviews.
The battle of technology and transparency (or the two Titans) is on-going and never straightforward. A balance needs to be struck between the two, whereby there is enough transparency while not divulging much of the associated intellectual property. One thing is certain: Privacy Law makers are starting to wake up to the aftermath of technology development in a void of legislative control. Is it too late? It remains to be seen.
If you are unsure how privacy protective or invasive a technology is, we can assist. We can conduct a Privacy Impact Assessment and/or a Data Transfer Assessment to put your mind at ease. Contact us and benefit immediately from the extensive knowledge of certified privacy professionals with strong technology knowledge and backgrounds.