Privacy is the big buzz word of late. Europe, the UK, the US – they all have it in their agendas and they all are looking in one form or another to enhance their legislation on the concept of privacy. But behind all that, what is privacy? Is privacy just a legal framework to follow and audit ourselves against or is it something much more than that?

Before I entered the world of “information rights’ if you had asked me what privacy was I would have said it was my right to keep things from my parents. I don’t want them knowing what’s in my bedside drawer! The concept of government access or inappropriate sharing would never cross my mind. And to your average Joe today of you were to stop them in the street the answer you would get an answer something along the lines of “it’s my right to do as I please without anyone knowing”. (Or a lot of blank faces – but I like to be optimistic). With that in mind, when your applying the subtleties of the DPA where does the fairness of processing data in India come in against that background?

I was overjoyed when I saw a legal case a month or so ago where it was decided that there was a breach of DPA because someone had breached the HRA. Processing of information that really does breach your right to privacy now is unlawful under the DPA. Surely this was obvious before now? No, apparently not. Historically providing you can meet one of the DPA conditions then you could process personal data, even if the processing seemed somewhat at odds with the concept of “no one knowing what I do”.

There are those that argue that the DPA is not your right to privacy, and they are right; it is not. However what is the DPA designed to do if not safeguard something? Your privacy maybe? In the Oxford English Dictionary the definition of “safeguard” is to protect and ensure the safety of. Therefore surely any legal framework must at its very core be based on and seek to protect the very principle it seeks to ‘safeguard’?

I have only been in the world of privacy and information rights for the past 4 years and in that time I have worked with a wide range of privacy related issues. Privacy and its implications is everywhere; from the very top of government to the teacher and student at school. If privacy is to survive long term we need to rethink how we approach privacy and ask ourselves what is privacy? Has that idea of privacy changed since World War 2?

As usual these are just my thoughts designed to spark discussion. Thoughts and views welcome, especially as I am a newbie to blogs. 🙂