This week in Privacy: Trust and Big Tech

Edinburgh castle

After an unseasonably mild February and March here in Edinburgh, May had been cool so far. So it has been great to see the sun and a little warmth come back and with it lots of tourists on the historical streets in the capital. Edinburgh’s become such a global, world-class and year round destination - it’s superb for the local economy - though sometimes hard to navigate the cobbled streets when there are lots of meetings to get to! Still, I made time to take this rather imposing view of Edinburgh castle between meetings yesterday (en route to CodeBase and an event on Privacy by Design hosted by EY). It’s truly a magnificent city to be based in.

But back to the global view of Privacy and it’s been yet another fascinating week for Trust & Big Tech - here’s our round up:

  • CPO’s story centres on the difference of approach between GDPR compliance in the US and Europe, asserting that the US are taking a more pragmatic, tech solution enabled approach “Europe will wake up at some point and realize they’re behind the technology curve. We can see it in the disproportionately low number of fines to breaches in Europe where they’re smothering the problem with legal.” - the article makes an interesting point, and certainly Trace have worked with or spoken to a lot of organisations who seem to be drowning in spreadsheets and version control. Given the compliance burden it’s pragmatic to look at how good RegTech solutions (such as our product) can complement good advice

  • The Register carries the HMRC story on voice recordings; "This sets a vital precedent for biometrics collection and the database state, showing that campaigners and the ICO have real teeth and no Government department is above the law.” says Director of Big Brother Watch, Silkie Carlo

  • It’s interesting and helpful to have the focus shift not only to Facebook, but to wider Big Tech’s approach on privacy - including Amazon’s echo dot which the Verge covers. A complaint has been filed to the FTC in respect of the accusation that “Amazon ..unlawfully storing data from conversations with children even after parents try to delete it. If true, the practice could violate the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA)

  • And with Big Tech so embedded in our lives, it’s hard to know which services to trust (or not) and how to weigh up utility and privacy - The Fast Company suggest some alternatives this week. For those with more time there’s an interesting Guardian article on the privacy paradox which explores the issue (which I can absolutely relate to being absolutely privacy aware as a professional, but a pragmatist on how I use carefully use digital services in my own life. It's always a case of weighing up risk versus reward and it’s a personal choice, but it’s important to be informed)

  • And lastly The FT cover what Google are going in this space - some acute observations here (if you have a subscription or are able to login): Big Tech are really ramping up the rhetoric and the tech solutions on privacy, but is this simply window dressing given their core of models are still about massive data collection?

Sorcha LorimerPrivacy