Digital Privacy Is All About Choice
When we talk about privacy, what are we really talking about?
The formal definition of privacy is definitely outdated. Even the common understanding has failed to keep up with our digital world.
In the digital world, privacy as a human right manifests itself in very different ways. It’s not keeping to yourself. It’s about understanding your data and the data about you and how that data is used.
Focusing on the goal of digital privacy is critical to success. That goal is 👇
The assurance that the system you are using only uses the data you intend in the way that you consent.
The challenge (as always) is in the implementation.
Privacy is all about choices. Where it breaks down is the difference between an implicit and explicit choice.
The complexity of the technology we use everyday amplifies this challenge, making it extremely difficult for most people to make explicit choices about their data.
A Web Page
Most users would expect that the web page they’ve asked for knows a few things about them. You could reasonably expect that the page knows what browser you’re using, whether or not you’re logged into the site, among other things.
If you’re a software engineer, you might recognize more nuance.
You know there are multiple systems that will see the request. That the browser is capable of a lot more than just showing a page. You understanding that when you ask for one page, you’re probably getting data from at least ten different locations.
With a deeper understanding of the technology at play, the engineer knows there is far more data and systems involved.
Given that gap, can a user meaningfully consent to data collection and sharing? How do we even start to address this challenge given how prevalent technology is in our communities?