The #BigTech antitrust hearing & the path ahead for privacy

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Last week’s Big Tech hearing was like a six-hour national therapy session — a collective moment of airing our grievances against the CEOs of four of the world’s largest companies — Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Apple. In a world where this small group of rich and powerful men are used to calling the shots, being in control, and operating without permission, members of Congress had the chance to frame the conversation, ask directed questions, and even cut the CEOs short before they could finish their sentences. …

Are we really going to let a few men destroy democracy?

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The stakes going into this year’s presidential election have arguably never been higher. Hard hit by a series of overlapping and intertwined crises, including the COVID-19 public health emergency and ensuing economic devastation and despair, people across America are suffering. At the same time, our country is facing a deep reckoning with the demons of its past, no longer able to outrun its legacy of slavery and long history of systemic racism and social injustice. Multitudes of protestors have taken to the streets to demand change. …

By Elizabeth M. Renieris in collaboration with Omidyar Network

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In line with Omidyar Network’s pathways and pitfalls themed series, this piece focuses on the impact of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on the global data protection landscape since taking effect in May of 2018. It is undeniable that the GDPR has dramatically influenced the global landscape for data protection by creating pathways for other jurisdictions in the evolution of their own laws, while simultaneously elevating the public consciousness with respect to data governance and privacy.

At the same time, the GDPR’s global reach, both directly through its extraterritorial scope…

A Legal, Public Health, and Technical Perspective

By Elizabeth M. Renieris, Dr. Sherri Bucher, and Christian Smith

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Despite limited backing from civil society or public health experts, as well as warnings from historians and bioethicists, technologists are racing ahead to build and deploy digital certificates that would allegedly let individuals “prove” whether they have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), have tested positive for antibodies, or have received a vaccination, should one become available. One such initiative is based on a combination of an emerging W3C standard for Verifiable Credentials (VCs), non-standard decentralized identifiers (DIDs), and distributed ledger technology (DLT) or “blockchain.”¹

In this article, we…

It’s time to move beyond individualistic approaches to data governance

Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

The coronavirus pandemic should make us reflect on the future of data governance and the limitations of our existing approaches. No one questions the prominence of data in our society and its increasingly prominent role in all of its systems, including public health. But a “data-driven” approach takes on an entirely new meaning in an unparalleled global crisis of the nature of COVID-19. Many of us believe that data and data analytics will be the answer to this crisis — our way out — or that an app or sophisticated technological response will save us. …

Applying core international human rights principles to coronavirus-related privacy interferences

Photo: Paul Faith/Getty Images

In the face of the devastating coronavirus pandemic, governments around the world are deploying an array of public- and private-sector technologies, causing great concern and alarm among privacy advocates worldwide. Many privacy experts are calling on the need to favor more privacy-preserving technologies, take measures to mitigate the risks to individual privacy posed by specific technologies, and impose purpose and storage limitations (among other restrictions) on the use of any personal data collected by the technologies that are ultimately deployed.

One example of a specific measure causing alarm is known as contact tracing, or the process of identifying individuals who…

The future of “ownership” in a connected world

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In 2018, The Great Hack star and former Cambridge Analytica operative Brittany Kaiser launched a petition with the hashtag #ownyourdata, equating personal data with ownable property. Interestingly, worldwide Google searches for the term “own your data” peaked last August, after the film was released by Netflix in late July.¹

What BIPA and SyRI-related developments tell us about the future of privacy

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Despite an otherwise dystopian start to 2020, there have also been a few glimmers of hope in the early weeks of the new decade. These recent developments light a path forward in an otherwise dark digital future and remind us that the solution to our present woes may be hiding in plain sight.

Much of this hope stems from a small (< 1500 words) but mighty piece of legislation — the Illinois Biometric Protection Act or BIPA. …

A theory of digital ID premised on Helen Nissenbaum’s theory of privacy

Photo by Marcus Castro on Unsplash

Digital identity systems are rapidly rolling out across countries and localities around the world. Digital ID credentials are quickly replacing legacy ones, with experts predicting that nearly half of all identity credentials in circulation will be smart credentials by 2023. These systems are also increasingly integrating biometric data, including fingerprints and facial recognition technologies, with some estimating that 3.6 billion people worldwide will carry digital IDs with embedded biometrics by 2021.

These trends are in part motivated by the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Viewed as…

Elizabeth M. Renieris

Founder @ hackylawyer | Fellow @ Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society | Fellow @ Carr Center at Harvard |CIPP/E, CIPP/US | Privacy, Identity, Blockchain

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