back to article Good news! Today is Data Privacy Day ... Stop sniggering at the back

It's the first Data Privacy Day since Edward Snowden started leaking details of the enormous surveillance operations run by the NSA and GCHQ. The annual January 28 event, held in the US and Europe, may therefore seem somewhat ironic in the wake of what we now know about government snooping. Whether you believe shadowy g-men …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    "So we need to have strong, principles-based legislation"

    Based on who's principles exactly ?

    1. Shannon Jacobs

      Re: "So we need to have strong, principles-based legislation"

      Possession is nine points of the law combined with the 4th and 5th Amendments of the American Constitution ought to suffice. Let me clarify:

      You should be able to possess your person, including your personal information. Any personal information about you should be stored in a place that YOU control, possibly even on your own personal hardware. You should be able to decide when anyone can use that information, and when that usage is completed, they should not be allowed to retain that personal data. Combined with the requirements of search warrants for ACTUAL crimes based on ACTUAL causes and the protection against self-incrimination, that would be sufficient.

      Let me offer a concrete example of bank records. That personal data could be stored on your machine with suitable checksums to prevent your tampering with. The storage policy could even specify redundancy and backup policies without revealing the decryption keys. When your bank needs to check something about your account or record additional transactions, they would ask your computer (or other specified storage location) to provide the data. Your computer should confirm their identity and routinely grant the request--but it would be your decision. If you change your mind, for ANY reason, then the nine points of the law would be on YOUR side, since you would have possession of your data.

      This is NOT as radical as it might seem. For example, in the days before all of this was computerized, you might get in a dispute with another person and have to present your evidence that you were telling the truth and your opponent was in the wrong. However, you didn't have to, and that could not be taken as proof of your guilt or liability.

      Freedom is about meaningful and unconstrained choice. These days people seem incredibly naive about protecting their freedom. It isn't just the negative information that can be used to threaten and blackmail you, though it is true that all of us are humans and we've all made mistakes. It is also that your positive information, your strengths and interests, that can be turned against you to manipulate you and remove your freedom.

      Have a nice day, eh?

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  3. silent_count

    How appropriate

    The article posted on El Reg after 'Data Privacy Day' is... 'Facebook Reads Your SMSs'.

  4. Scoular

    There is not going to be any effective legislation to provide privacy while the US government and big business oppose the concept as they clearly do. They may try to do provide a pretend form of privacy for PR reasons but that will be about it.

  5. Eponymous Cowherd

    Privates on Parade......

    is more appropriate.

    I'll file that alongside "World peace day"

  6. Benjol

    They might not be analysing our data, but I thought that the whole point of Snowden's leak was to show that for 99% of us, they ARE harvesting our online activities?

  7. Tree

    Privacy rules

    Keep your stuff private. Avoid the following: Gurgle, Facebutt, Tw*tter. Block googleanalytics, Doubleclick, etc. This is made easier using Firefox and some extensions available. I use NoScript, AdBlock Plus and Better Privacy. Using these, one can decide who gets one's info and who doesn't. Turn off location awareness. NEVER use a Google product like Chrome, Android devices, Gmail. Likewise with Microsoft if connected to internet like Internet Explorer. Search with an engine like DuckDuckGo rather than Google, Bing or even Yahoo. They want to track you.

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