Digital privacy protects users from the unauthorized use and abuse of their online data and communications. Many believe that digital privacy, like privacy itself, is a fundamental human right, necessary to protect people from unwanted interference in their online lives.
Is digital privacy as essential as traditional privacy? Does it only benefit individuals, or can businesses benefit from it as well? Digital privacy is a significant, controversial, and important topic for both individual users and companies that do business online.
Why Digital Privacy Is Important
In today’s digital world, it is difficult to draw the boundaries of one’s individual privacy. Social media and other online services revolve around the concept of online sharing, including the sharing of personal information.
Unfortunately, this free and open sharing of information increases the risk that information will be misused, which goes against the traditional concept of individual privacy. People have become accustomed to their right to privacy – a right existing in society for centuries. Suddenly, thanks to the rapid technological advances of our digital society, and epitomized by the constant interconnectedness of the Internet, information previously thought private is now anything but.
Without a guarantee that digital privacy rights are comparable to traditional privacy rights, people may find that their online activities compromise their individual freedoms. An individual’s online buying habits might lead to a barrage of unwanted advertising from other retailers. Online health records, if shared with the wrong entities, might endanger a person’s chances of qualifying for a new job, or result in exorbitant insurance rates. An individual’s controversial social media posts might attract unwanted attention from a government that holds opposing views.
If an individual’s online privacy is unduly compromised, it might inspire that individual to curtail his or her online activities. If people turn against social media, online retailers, and other Internet-based businesses on a mass scale, it could have a serious impact on the nation’s economy. Businesses rely so much on online commerce and data sharing that a major disruption in online use could result in severe financial disruption.
Should Digital Privacy Be a Fundamental Human Right?
Most nations and international institutions recognize privacy as a fundamental human right. According to Article 12 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), nobody is to fall victim to arbitrary interference with their “privacy, family, home, or correspondence.” It goes on to state that nobody is to be subjected to attacks on their reputation either. Finally, Article 12 states that everyone has the right to seek legal help should such attacks occur.
Most experts recognize four key elements to this right to privacy: information privacy, bodily privacy, privacy of communications, and territorial privacy. Of these rights, information privacy and the privacy of communications are threatened by the unprotected use of the Internet.
Because of how the Internet threatens these traditional privacy rights, privacy experts are arguing for the explicit codification of digital privacy rights. Many in the tech industry are, as well. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella recently told attendees at the Microsoft Decoded conference that “all of us will have to think about the digital experiences we create to really treat privacy as a human right.”
To enshrine data privacy as a fundamental human right, companies and the government will need to adhere to a new set of rules regarding online data. As recommended by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), online entities will need to ensure the right of disclosure, so that individuals can find out what data of theirs is being stored online. They’ll also need to ensure the right of erasure so that individuals can remove information that they don’t want to be stored online.
Digital Privacy Is Good for Business
How does the recognition of digital privacy as a fundamental right impact business? One might think that the additional costs and regulations inherent in ensuring online privacy would be financially burdensome. Indeed, there are additional costs associated with improving data security and managing the use of digital data. The benefits of doing so, however, should outweigh any additional costs.
Consumers are calling for stronger protections for their online data. They are turning against companies such as Facebook that treat data privacy in a cavalier fashion. They want companies they can trust with their data, not companies they fear will misuse it.
In our evolving digital world, customers are becoming increasingly aware of their digital privacy rights and likely to reward companies that respect those rights. Businesses that invest in technology and systems that better protect customer data and communications will reap the rewards of increased customer loyalty. Companies that continue to abuse their customers’ digital privacy rights will suffer from a loss of those same customers. Thus, ensuring digital privacy is good for business.
Wickr Pro – For Enhanced Digital Privacy
Wickr Pro is the most robust and secure encrypted messaging solution available today. Wickr uses end-to-end encryption to ensure digital privacy for your company’s internal and external communications and has powerful administrative controls to support the most challenging corporate and regulatory compliance regimes. With Wickr, you get secure text messaging, voice and video calls, file transfers, and more. Contact us to learn more about Wickr and how it fits within your organization’s digital privacy strategy.
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