Demystifying misconceptions around privacy

| November 5, 2014

Where does privacy sit on the priority list for your company? Emma Hossack President of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (iappANZ) explains the fundamentials of privacy and the use of personal data ahead of the Privacy@Play Summit. 

Somehow privacy has a bad reputation. The reasons for the reputation are all based on misconceptions of what privacy really is.

I am not suggesting that there is a simple and definitive definition, you certainly won’t find one in the Privacy Act. That’s because privacy is contextual – chameleon like, it changes to suit the environment. What’s private for you, may not be so private for Paris Hilton. And that could change tomorrow.

Privacy has been variously called the right to be left alone, the right to live free from surveillance or “dataveillance”, a human right and so on. But whichever definition you take, it is difficult to understand privacy without autonomy. That’s because privacy is about the control we have over our information. The beauty of this is that once organisations appreciate this, valuable information can be transacted with benefits for all parties.

But first, let’s deal with some misconceptions.

Privacy has been blamed for clinicians, policemen and families not sharing life- saving information. In the UK the situation in the National Health Service got so bad the Caldicott Report was commissioned, and in late October here in Australia an inquest into the death of a small boy found people knew what was happening but were fearful of sharing on account of the privacy legislation.

Privacy is also the lazy man’s excuse for not passing information inside and outside organisations. Have you ever been frustrated by a bureaucrat or office refusing you the information you are legally entitled to “Because of the Privacy Act?” It is such a common response that it has become a well- known acronym, B-O-T-P-A. The final bad rap privacy gets is for being all about compliance and more regulation. It’s not!

Privacy is about making sure that information which can be used, is used with the right access controls. Imagine having all your money is a bank vault which didn’t enable you to make transactions. That’s what the so called “file-huggers” are doing with information and it’s bad business. Privacy is the answer.

So why is privacy really sexy? Because once you have trust with organisations about how they will use your information, you can provide it and get the services you need. Stephen Deadman, Chief Privacy Officer from Vodafone UK, is a champion of disruptive business models that promise to shake up the predominant approach to personal data use and management by private and public sector alike. He will be at iappANZ’s Privacy@Play Summit on 17th November, talking about these emergent business models in the light of new technologies.

The mobile world is another hot area. Almost 4 billion people are connected to the mobile internet, so what is the cross border model for privacy in the future?  Larry Irving, former architect of the Clinton administration’s telecommunication and internet policies will be exploring this at the Privacy@Play Summit.  How did Scotland get their shared electronic health record working for clinicians and consumers when Australia got it so wrong? Dr Libby Morris Clinical lead NHS Scotland will reveal all.

Other high profile public issues which have emerged will be covered at the Summit.

The Right to be Forgotten, the Internet of Things, Data Breaches & Emerging Cyber Threats, and What’s Hot in Privacy – data retention for one!

Privacy@Play will shake off privacy’s drab reputation and show what a rich and valuable area it is for individuals, public and private organisations.

Emma Hossack is the President of iappANZ. She is the CEO of Extensia, a leading Australian supplier of software for the health care sector and CEO of Edocx, an information logistics platforms used across all sectors. Before acquiring Extensia, Emma practised as a commercial lawyer and completed her Masters of Law focusing on privacy and shared health records. Emma is also President of the Medical Software Industry Association for Australia, a member of HISA and representative on various Government reference groups.