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— Blog

Data Privacy and You

March 13, 2015

The digital age is truly underway and the Internet plays a critical role in the personal lives of billions of people. For both those who do nearly everything online (shopping, banking, socializing, dating) and those who are just casual users, the Internet in some respects remains a bit of a black box. What happens to my information when I enter it? Where is it stored? Can it be accessed by someone else? Is it safe? Can it be used in some unintended way at some stage in the future?

Daniel J. Weitzner, former White House Deputy CTO for Internet Policy, came to Dublin to confront these questions at a breakfast briefing with Digital Realty Ireland.

A quick side note: while Digital Realty is not directly involved in protecting data – our focus is on maintaining the physical security of the data centre – with all the recent data security breaches around the world, data security is top of mind for many of our clients.

With the collection of so much data about individuals, according to Weitzner, this poses a new and unexpected threat to data privacy. Think of it this way. If you went to a bookstore three years ago and bought Fifty Shades of Grey, you would have handed over certain information, maybe a credit card, and you may have signed up for monthly updates from the store about offers. What if this information, three years later, was used to deny you a bank loan because the banker felt that buying such a book demonstrated that you had a tendency to be irresponsible? Sounds ridiculous, but according to Weitzner this is a possible scenario.

Another potential challenge facing internet users and discussed during the breakfast briefing is that of the possibility of government overreach. In the past year, we have had high profile incidents which make us all ask one basic question: who is listening to our calls or recording our online footprint? Terrorism and crime are real issues but should we give government the right to invade our private space, whether physical or digital? This area is murky, according to Weitzner, and we are only now, in 2015, facing up to the challenges of legislating for it. So what can governments do? According to him, governments should act responsibly and avoid crossing the precipice between crime prevention and the invasion of privacy.

One thing we can take from this discussion is that the next decade of the Internet age is going to be defining. So many questions to be answered, lines to be defined, and boundaries erected.

Blog post by Gary Keogh , Sales Director