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Campaigner for Digital Privacy Rights.

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Title: Campaigner for Digital Privacy Rights. Department: UK Home Office. 1. Introduction The Home Office is the Government department responsible for internal affairs in England and Wales. The purpose of the Home Office is to work with individuals and communities to build a safe, just and tolerant society enhancing opportunities for all and in which rights and responsibilities go hand in hand, and the protection and security of the public are maintained and enhanced.1 This does not only include issue like immigration and nationality, criminal justice or drugs prevention but also comprises privacy protection issues. Especially, in the last couple of years privacy has become a hot topic among the people who have made it their business to mind your business. Identity theft, government surveillance programs, and the increased efficiency with which marketers can collect and process data have led to widespread concern. These issues have mainly been caused by the massive growth of the Internet and the corresponding development of electronic commerce that enable the world- wide transfer (via the Internet) of private data. As a result of this, many people may be reluctant to use the Internet if they are afraid that the personal information transmitted over it can be used in ways that are unexpected or inappropriate. Hence, the pressure is now on for governments to take action in order to safeguard the legitimate privacy interests of Internet users, and it is no surprise that today legislators, media pundits and special interest groups all wrestle with this issue. However in the past, analysis has shown that the response to this issue has been a source of great contention by various governments. While the US Government has consistently stressed that it will not regulate privacy on the Internet but instead calls upon industry to regulate itself, the European Union and Great Britain, on the other hand, have taken the opposite approach. ...read more.


Proponents of self-regulation claim that there is a clear unity of interest between online businesses and their potential customers. Businesses want to provide a safe and pleasant online experience and consumers want to have one. If businesses neglect their customers, their profits will decline, shareholders will be unhappy, and ultimately the firm will go out of business. Since these incentives exist, the argument that government must step in to aid e-commerce is wrong. Ann Cavoukian, information and privacy commissioner for Ontario, Canada, who has been influential in promoting this viewpoint in Canada and the U.S. says, "If you're in the information business today, you've got to lead with privacy because privacy is good for business". 10 This 'self-regulatory' attitude might sit well with a majority of Americans, but European cultural norms dictate a different interpretation of the facts. If anything, the history of self- regulation is not very compelling. The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) advocates self-regulation, but its own regulatory record is poor indeed. A 1996 study by Professor Joel Reidenberg and Professor Paul Schwartz found that fewer than half of DMA members complied with the association's own modest guidelines. A study conducted by EPIC in 1998 found that only a handful of new DMA members met the DMA's privacy principles, even after the DMA made compliance a condition of membership. 11 Advocates of privacy regulation argue that the profit motive of businesses contradicts privacy interests, and since businesses care more about profits than consumers, self-regulation will never work. Consumers want their rights protected in the online world, just as they are protected in the offline world. Hence, privacy protection should not end where the Internet begins. The 1998 Harris poll on Internet privacy found that just over half of those surveyed "favour government passing laws to regulate how personal information can be collected and used on the Internet." 12 This also explains why in the UK the Home Office is ready to enact legislation that provides individuals with a baseline of privacy protection on the Net by codifying the fair information principles. ...read more.


8. Endnotes 1. Home Office UK website; Online at: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/ 2. BBC World Service/ Human Rights, Right to privacy in home, family and correspondence; Online at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/peopl...es/ihavearightto/four_b/d_right_1.shtml 3. Warren, S. & Brandeis, L.D. The Right to Privacy, Originally published in 4 Harvard Law Review 193 (1890); Online at: http://www.louisville.edu/library/law/brandeis/privacy.html 4. Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario, Privacy and Digital Rights Management (DRM): An Oxymoron?, October 2002; Online at: http://www.ipc.on.ca/english/pubpres/papers/drm.htm#intro 5. Dyson, E. Privacy Protection: Time to Think and Act Locally and Globally; Online at: http://www.firstmonday.dk/issues/issue3_6/dyson/ 6. Arrison, S. Consumer Privacy A Free Choice Approach; Online at: www.pacificresearch.org/pub/sab/techno/privacy 7. Some examples include Dr.Koop.com, Boo.com, and Toysmart 8. Federal Trade Commission, Privacy Online: A Report to Congress, June 1998; Online at: http://www.maricopacountyattorney.org/SpecPros/children.asp#N_2_ 9. Liberto, S.M. Government Regulation of Web Privacy: Congress takes a first Step, From the November 1998 issue of WWWiz Magazine; 10. Lester, T. The Reinvention of Privacy, Atlantic Monthly, March 2001; Volume 287, No. 3; pp. 27-39. Online at: www.theatlantic.com/issues/2001/03/lester-p1.htm. 11. For Privacy, New Laws By Marc Rotenberg - Issue Date: Dec 04 1998 12. Givens, B. Privacy Expectations in a High Tech World, Santa Clara University, Symposium on Internet Privacy - Computer and High Technology Law Journal; February 11-12, 2000; Online at: http://www.privacyrights.org/ar/expect.htm 13. Information and Privacy Commissioner/Ontario, Privacy and Digital Rights Management (DRM): An Oxymoron?, October 2002; Online at: http://www.ipc.on.ca/english/pubpres/papers/drm.htm#intro 14. Online at: http://europa.eu.int/comm/internal_market/en/dataprot/law/dir1995-46_part1_en.pdf 15. The Data Protection Act. A Guide To The Data Protection Act, Online at: http://www.legislation.org.uk/index.htm 16. Davies, S. New Techniques and Technologies of Surveillance in the Workplace, Computer Security Research Centre - The London School of Economics; Online at: http://www.msf-itpa.org.uk/juneconf3.shtml 17. RAND Conference Asks: How Do Emerging Technologies Impact Privacy and Privacy Policy?; Online at: http://www.rand.org/natsec_area/products/privconf.html 18. For more on what encryption is see: www.pgpi.org/doc/pgpintro/#p3 19. Chaum, D. Blind Signatures for Untraceable Payments, CRYPTO 82, Plenum, pp. 199-203. 20. Meller, P. European Union Set to Vote on Data Law, New York Times ,13 Nov 2001; Online at: http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/13/technology/13NET.html 21. See A Little Privacy, Please, BUS. WK., March 16, 1998, at 98 [hereinafter BUSINESS WEAK Poll] 9. ...read more.

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