With more and more data being generated every day, and data generation levels rising exponentially with time, privacy has become a prime concern for corporations and governments worldwide. Primarily online, the need for privacy technology (aka PrivacyTech) has been exacerbated to a great degree due to recent developments.
The increasing need for privacy has been brought about by several crucial factors. Let us take a look at some of these.
· Evolving technology, in terms of phones, email, instant messaging, and social media, has made the process of connecting and communicating with other people extremely easy. This makes for a rapid increase in the amount of personal data that is regularly generated by people and about people.
· Consequently, corporations have also started taking an active interest in collecting, analyzing, and using this data for business interests.
· Concerns have also surfaced regarding the interests of governments in this data and their methods of collecting and using it, especially with the goal of surveillance.
· Recently, data breaches have been a regular occurrence involving both corporations and governments. This can seriously compromise privacy.
Keeping these essential points in mind, privacy-enhancing technologies can be thought of as tools, techniques, and best practices that can be employed at all levels to enhance the privacy of different types and volumes of data.
Privacy by Design
Privacy-enhancing technologies have a definite link with the concept of privacy by design. The needs of the hour prompted the advent of this concept of system design and engineering, where the relevant standards for privacy are kept in mind from the very outset. In this approach, the most important current and potential privacy considerations are considered and integrated from the outset in the development of infrastructures, business practices, products, and services.
This is a significant contrast with traditional and out-dates approaches of thinking of systems. In privacy by design, privacy is considered not an option but a default. Privacy measures are integrated into the design from the very start, and the approach values prevention over remedies and pro activeness over re activeness.
Fundamentals of Privacy-Enhancing Technologies
In a broad sense, privacy-enhancing technologies are all meant to protect data in some form. This umbrella term can encompass technical processes and methods that can be used to protect data and prevent privacy risks on behalf of individuals or groups.
In most cases, the core principles of privacy tech can hinge on these critical points:
· Maximizing the security of data
· Minimizing the use of personal data
· Empowering individuals to control the purpose of their data
Privacy tech can also be considered essential tools for corporations and governments the world over in their quest for compliance with national and international laws, regulations, and best practices governing data protection and data privacy.
Important Privacy-Enhancing Technologies
While continuously evolving, data encryption has already reached a level of maturity. This technique can satisfy essential criteria in terms of the proportionality and security principles detailed in data protection laws. With more and more corporations and governments waking up to the charms of encryption, there have also been efforts to on behalf of regulators to become more prescriptive about its use.With better and more innovative encryption standards now available for widespread use, this technique certainly has a lot of appeal in privacy tech applications due to its high effectiveness, ease of deployment, and excellent scalability.
One great way to prevent privacy risks to personal data is to strip it of the personal details. Anonymization can be achieved in many ways and has already become an integral part of the privacy drive of many entities.
A common tactic that privacy-enhancing technologies have brought to the table is pseudonymization. In this process, personal identifiers in stored data can be replaced by artificial pseudonyms during the data processing stage. While this does not render the data any less valuable for detailed analysis, the chance of personal identification and all related privacy risks can be significantly curtailed.
Many privacy-enhancing technologies take advantage of the obfuscation technique, where data profiles can be rendered more difficult to misuse through the addition of fake and misleading data. This can be a great way to prevent privacy risks if the data does get disclosed or lost.
Obfuscation techniques can be particularly useful in scenarios where the disclosed data is likely to be processed by generic algorithms that rely on simple processes and instructions to analyze data.
Advanced Metadata Applications
Metadata can provide semantic information about different types of data. This makes it an ideal tool for privacy-enhancing technologies to make key distinctions between regular data and personal data during the processing stage. Through the use of metadata, several specific data types that can help disclose personal information can be straightaway marked as sensitive and processed differently.
More advanced uses of metadata, like Digital Rights Management or DRM, are also being employed in many industries to provide individuals and groups with better granular control.over their personal information. DRM solutions have already been widely used as a means to protect electronic copyrights.
These solutions can be easy to implement and can have excellent support for privacy tech applications.
When it comes to privacy-enhancing technologies, online privacy for individual users cannot be ignored. With hundreds of entities vying for these users’ data, there is always a need for reliable and versatile solutions that can help internet users protect their privacy online.
A great case in point is the use of Virtual Private Networks or VPNs. These can be used to anonymize network traffic through the use of end-to-end encryption. Already, there has been widespread adoption of the services of top VPN providers as the international community of internet users wake up to the risk of personal data breaches.
The same can be said about solutions like Onion Routing that enable completely anonymous communications over the internet. High levels of anonymity and security can be achieved with the help of such solutions.
With the risks of data breaches and personal data disclosure on the rise and increased awareness, more and more corporations, individuals, and governments are actively turning towards solutions that integrate the relevant privacy-enhancing technologies. Over the years, stricter regulations and legislation can make privacy tech even more critical for businesses.
The privacy landscape of the world has been changing for quite some time. With a better understanding of the risks involved and modern, robust technologies from innovators, that landscape is likely to continue a dramatic change in the near future.