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Data Protection Law & Policy

Current Issue (July 2014)

Volume: 11 Issue: 7



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About Data Protection Law & Policy:

The monthly law journal which covers all aspects of data protection and data privacy: data transfer & outsourcing, marketing and e-marketing, freedom of information (FOI), employee monitoring, privacy compliance, online data acquisition and consent, personal data, website compliance and emerging technologies such as behavioural advertising, cloud computing and smart grids. / read more

The floating perception of privacy

As Google Glass is being sold in the US and Europeans are promised the right to be forgotten by the European Court of Justice, privacy is as ever at the forefront of everyone’s agenda and making first page news. Companies are struggling to find the right balance between the need to protect data while growing their business and enhancing consumer trust. Legislators are pushing for laws that are regarded ‘nonsensical’ at best (cookie rules) or invalid, illegal at worst (Data Retention Directive).

Data contributes to value creation, and as a new form of asset, there is naturally turf war over this value. Definition of personal data is predetermined and the value of it to an individual and to the marketer/companies will vary. Some initiatives are already putting the price tag on data and calculating how much an individual’s data is worth on Facebook, while others try to sell their data as a way of experimenting as well. Thus, while the value of data could be calculated (to some extent), what about the regulation of its use; could there be a perfect one size fits all law? If so, could this law:

a.  be global and applicable without boundaries across the globe;

b.  be future and technology-proof;

c.  meet the right balance between an individual’s right and businesses’ needs; and

d.  be easy to apply, implement and enforce?

Reality shows that this wishlist is nowhere near to be fulfilled at this stage and the best efforts to find the right solution will continue for some time. Could this ‘ideal’ framework be based on principles instead of prescriptive rules? Could data protection be regulated and balanced by consumer trust?

The perception of what is personal data and how it is to be used differs among regions, countries, individuals, and even the same person may make a different choice on exactly the same data at a different stage in life (for example, teenage vs adult posts on Twitter/Facebook).

This floating perception of privacy, rapidly changing technology and regional differences are some of the reasons for legal uncertainty. While the frameworks/solutions are being proposed by the different stakeholders and argued for and against during numerous forums, conferences and seminars – technology rushes ahead and the quest for the holy grail – the perfect balance between the business needs and data protection – continues. Companies that manage to get the balance right (even and especially in this uncertain environment) would enjoy enhanced consumer trust and as a result, enhanced business.


Asta Puraite

Associate Editor

Data Protection Law & Policy


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A must-read for privacy professionals worldwide, this book anticipates the key elements that organisations and privacy professionals will need to tackle to comply with the regulatory framework of the future.

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