eBrandz Blog

Fight for online data privacy gets new legal edge

Would you really be worried if your mobile number or other sensitive private data on the Web was becoming accessible to any site you had just visited? And, imagine if someone from us had happened to put a sort of embarrassing photo or video online, a few months ago, which had been forgotten by now, suddenly resurfaces! Would you not want to remove all traces of it forever?
Guarding personal information flow

Two instances in a debate about striking the balance between the free flow of information and privacy on the internet, are apparently pitching users against companies. The first one was a revelation that a network was seemingly sharing phone numbers of its mobile customers with any site/s that they visit. This came to light after Lewis Peckover, an IT systems administrator, put a demonstration showing how a number was revealed after a mobile device accessed a website over 3G.

The company in question, O2 network, was rather quick to react, as it sensed a storm brewing up on Twitter. Yes, it conceded, we did share customers’ numbers with its ‘trusted partners to let services such as age verification’. However, it claimed that the However, it claimed that the intension was never to take such bits information to reach every site, something that happened because of a faulty maintenance, now fixed.

New EU legislations

So why and how would it really matter if your number or other information was provided out to a site – directly or indirectly? The point here is that it might well be a breach of the prevailing data protection legislation provisions in Britain that lay out norms for how this data can or cannot be shared and how the customers are to be informed of this.

And then there are going to be stringent pan-European rules that bring us to a second example. The new data protection directive in EU incorporates ‘the right to be forgotten’ or, the right to inform a social site to take out those indiscreet photographs of the past that might affect your job interview outcome.

More radically, in the backdrop of the web industry, at least, it gives the right to inform a search engine and other websites where a photograph might have landed to expunge it too. The idea behind the new radical directive, slated to replace 27 existing data protection regimes all across Europe, is to put users in charge of their personal information, making them more secured and confident while using online services.

Search and social sites are not happy

This new internet regulation, however, has rekindled debate on Sopa and Pipa, the American anti-piracy laws. While welcoming the strengthened privacy norms, The Open Rights Group (ORG) has appealed to the Commission for ignoring complaints regarding the impact on operations by social sites and search engines.

According to ORG’s Jim Killock, advice from Facebook and Google is not warranted when framing privacy provisions. Both believe most consumers are not averse to share data online, a claim backed by the advertisers, who vouch for its relevance to offer customized services for the benefit of users.