WP 1 – Current legal, socio-economic and legal approaches to privacy and technology

Objectives

  1. Analyse the legal, socio-economic aspects (approaches) to privacy and data protection, with special reference to the emerging fields of science and technology.
  2. Prepare a report based on the analysis of the differing conceptualisations and elicit comments from the panel of experts.
  3. Prepare a discussion paper on how the ethical, socio-economic and legal approaches to privacy and data protection impact each other and how these different conceptualisations can be integrated to benefit European policy-making.
  4. Invite and gather comments from the external experts on the discussion paper.
  5. Convene a workshop for the experts to discuss the issues raised in the discussion paper.
The starting point for the project will be a four-fold analysis of the “state of the art” regarding the ethical, social, economic and legal approaches to privacy and data protection, focussing on generic privacy and data protection problems raised by emerging technologies. Each of these approaches is the subject of a separate task. All four tasks will be carried on in parallel and this four-fold analysis will provide the basis for subsequent WPs.

Task 1.1: The legal dimension of privacy

Task 1 is devoted to an analysis of the state of the art of the legal approaches to privacy and data protection.

The legal conceptualisations of privacy and data protection are the result of legal practice (case-law) as it works in reference to a legislative (political) framework and as this legal practice is interpreted by legal scholars (“authorities”).

This WP will make the distinction between privacy and data protection. The distinction, also to be found in the 2000 EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, is new and in need of more conceptualisation. The distinction is not meant to separate things, but to better determine overlappings and articulations, with a view to the building up of policies that reflect the irreducible dynamics of the different practices of law, ethics, politics, economics and technologies.

The fulfilment of the scope of this task is based on the achievement of the following tasks: research of legal sources (case-law and legislation); review of scientific literature; clarification of the distinction between privacy and data protection, both on the basis of legal texts, of legal practices and emerging fields of science and technology; identification and description of relevant third countries legal approaches; legal analysis of the state of the art of the legal approaches to privacy and data protection; draft of the state of the art report.

Task 1.2: The social dimension of privacy and trade-offs

This work package will examine the costs and consequences of these encroachments.

It will analyse society’s changing attitudes towards privacy and data protection and the factors that influence the importance people attach to privacy in different contexts. Also of interest will be evidence of citizens’ views of privacy as a data protection issue, ethical issue and/or fundamental right, and how their views have changed over time.

In our societies, privacy is often balanced against other social values such as public safety and national security. Making such trade-offs is often difficult. We will look at some of the values, such as free speech, freedom of information, security and transparency, against which privacy is balanced and the factors involved in making trade-offs and judging the consequences of the trade-offs. In making our examination of trade-offs, we will also analyse the literature on privacy in the workplace.

The fulfilment of the scope of this task is based on the achievement of the following tasks: review of scientific literature; systematisation of the different social approaches to privacy and data protection, analysis of different national/regional traditions/paradigms towards privacy in Europe and beyond Europe; draft of the state-of-the-art report.

Task 1.3: The value and economics of privacy

The value of privacy will often be context-dependent. In examining the value of privacy, we will also consider the losses, costs and harms, to both individuals and societies, when privacy is intruded upon or violated.

The problem with discussing the value of privacy in the abstract is that privacy is a dimension of a wide variety of activities each having a different value – and privacy differs in different contexts. Because privacy consists of a plurality of protections against different types of problems, its value is plural as well. The value of privacy emerges from the activities that it protects.

We will review and synthesise the literature on the economic of privacy. We will explore the different models put forward and determine to what extent the economics of privacy is discussed in, primarily, ICT related areas and discuss if these approaches can be applied for other areas.

Task 1.4: Ethical aspects of privacy and data protection

Technology, particularly revolutionary technology, generates many ethical problems. Sometimes the problems can be treated easily under extant ethical policies, but because new technology allows us to perform activities in new ways, situations may arise in which we do not have adequate policies in place to guide us. We may be confronted with policy vacuums. Thus, we need to formulate and justify new policies (laws, rules and customs) for acting in these new kinds of situations. Sometimes we can anticipate that the use of the technology will have consequences that are clearly undesirable. As much as possible, we need to anticipate these and establish policies that will minimise the deleterious effects of the new technology.

Task 4 will provide an analysis of the “state of the art” regarding the ethical approaches to privacy and data protection, with special attention to the generic privacy and data protection problems raised by emerging technologies.

Privacy can be understood in (at least) three senses:
  • as a right to be left alone
  • as a right to control information flows about oneself (and consequently also data protection)
  • as a right to determine what one’s own private sphere should include or exclude (privacy as right to private/family life)

We aim to read these three meanings through the lens of ethics rather than only through the lens of law. We will argue that a new regime is needed to buttress privacy’s conception as an ethical issue and as a value, and to arrive at some satisfactory solution in instances where privacy concerns arise. We will put forward some ideas on how privacy can be dealt with (contextualised) as an ethical issue. In order to deal with privacy as an ethical issue, there is a need to engage stakeholders, ethicists as well as other stakeholders, including the public (science in society, ethical determinations depend on what is acceptable in a society).

The results of the analysis will be compared with the outcome of the legal analysis (task 1). What are the ethical implications and challenges of the distinction between privacy and data protection in the EU Charter on Fundamental Rights? Can ethics benefit from this distinction? How to establish an integrated framework for assessment of converging technologies that integrates the findings of both legal and ethical analysis?

Task 1.5: Preparation of a discussion paper

In this task, the partners will reflect upon and discuss the different conceptions of and perspectives on privacy and data protection from Tasks 1, 2 and 3. We will analyse the differences and contrasts between the different conceptions with the aim of building bridges between the different regimes. Our analysis will show how the ethical, social, economic and legal approaches to privacy and data protection impact each other.

Task 1.6: Workshop

The partners will convene a one-day workshop external experts to discuss, validate and enhance the discussion paper (the deliverable) produced as a result of Task 5.

The workshop and its outcome will conclude the first phase of the PRESCIENT project.

News

Conference Book of abstracts available
BECOME INVOLVED: The program of the PRESCIENT conference is now available!
SAVE THE DATE: The PRESCIENT project will hold an international conference on "Privacy and Emerging Sciences and Technologies" on 27 & 28 November 2012 at Fraunhofer Forum in Berlin
30-11-2011: Book Launch: Towards Responsible Research and Innovation in the ICT and Security Technologies Fields.
Download Report
01-06-2011: Workshop on "Privacy issues arising from next generation whole genome sequencing" (01 June 2011) in Brussels
In co-operation with the STOA Project "Making Perfect Life"
 
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