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The twenty privacy principles they never taught you at school

united states freedom image statue liberty

By Simon Davies

GENERAL PRINCIPLES
1. Responsible organisations describe privacy as a “right”, unaware ones talk of it as a “value” and bad players lambast it as an “interest”.
2. Most people in power only support privacy rights when they’re about to get dumped into a scandal.

The absence of a single definition of privacy proves its universality, not its fragility.

3. Claims of a conflict between privacy and freedom of information rise in proportion to the number of public figures who’ve been caught with their pants down.
4. The absence of a single definition of privacy proves its universality, not its fragility. No-one ever derided freedom for having multiple definitions.
5. Precisely how you pronounce the word “privacy” is far less important than is the amount of spit you expel when you utter it.
CRITICISM OF PRIVACY
6. Only self-declared hypocrites and contrarians can honestly claim that they don’t care about privacy.
7. Anyone who tells you privacy is a middle class Western concept has never read the bible or the Holy Qur’an – and they’ve certainly never tried walking uninvited into a favela.

If you need to be reminded why privacy is important, accidentally leave your child’s medical records on a bus.

8. If you need to be reminded why privacy is important, accidentally leave your child’s medical records on a bus.
9. Corporations argue against the creation of “expensive and cumbersome” privacy regulation because they want expensive and cumbersome piracy regulation instead.
10. People who claim they have nothing to hide usually have unlisted home telephone numbers.
PUBLIC BODIES
11. The Privacy Threat Level goes to red whenever government says it wants to “modernise” privacy protections.

The nemesis of effective law enforcement and strong national security is unaccountability, not privacy

12. Whenever government talks about the need to balance privacy and the Public Interest it usually just wants to balance privacy.
13. The nemesis of effective law enforcement and strong national security is unaccountability, not privacy
14. The privacy threat from a government data scheme is inversely proportional to the amount of evidence published to justify it.
15. With rare exceptions, the more a government tells you how much it values your privacy, the less it really does.
COMPANIES
16. “Enhancing the user experience” is a euphemism for increased customer surveillance.
17. Instituting privacy standards in the surveillance industry is like engaging health & safety procedures in an execution chamber.

True privacy protection will emerge only when engineers achieve the same pay grade as lawyers

18. The overall privacy threat from a corporation is directly proportional to its overall reliance on monetising personal information.
DESIGN
19. The problem with “Privacy by Design” is that it involves far too much rhetoric about privacy and far too little practical focus on design.
20. True privacy protection will emerge only when engineers achieve the same pay grade as lawyers