Have we lost our right to privacy ?
The expression “Data is the new oil” refers to the centrality of big data to the digital economy.
Like oil, data means money, but also a need for safety and security and consequently, political investment. Therefore, data protection issues facing companies represent the biggest deal of privacy concerns, and finding a balance between privacy and digital economy isn’t easy. Have we lost our right to privacy ?
On the one hand, several rights are attached to our data, suggesting our right to privacy still exist. For instance, the right to erasure (or “right to be forgotten”) contained in article 17 GDPR is the right for Internet users to obtain the deletion of personal information. When someone asks a company for the removal of its data, the firm is in principle obliged to erase them. Moreover, we are our own master and then, we have control over which personal information we decide to share on the Internet and to give to companies. Everyone must be aware and conscious of the risks implied by revealing such information and thus, take responsibility. Besides, technical measures, like private browser or VPN (Virtual Private Network) enable to protect privacy.
On the other hand, it appears difficult to keep our life private at the time of social networks. Nowadays, in the digital era, everyone has a smartphone with a lot of applications that collect, process and exchange data. Most of those apps require the user consent : if he doesn’t sign on, then he can’t use the app. Therefore, he is more or less obliged to agree to share some information. Furthermore, it can happen data breach and hacking, so that spoilers might steal Internet users’ personal information.
The commodification and sale of user data drive the digital economy and user data is the currency which consumers pay for free services. Indeed, companies don’t make money off services they offer, but they make it off advertising by targeting users (they collect data about users’ preferences, browsing habits and personal details). To conclude, the Internet is intrusive and infringes privacy : with the advent of the WWW (World Wide Web), we lost inevitably a part of our private life. That’s why laws and regulations must protect Internet users from invasion of privacy and punish those violations.
The right to privacy is a key issue.