#CyberFLASH: Is Digital Privacy Becoming a More Participatory Process?

10712553There has always been tension surrounding privacy online. Most users want an experience something between total anonymity and total openness, and largely the onus has been on them to learn about their rights and options. However, the dynamic may now be changing as companies become more transparent about their practices, and users begin questioning the data companies collect.

In an environment of changing data protection laws, and increased user participation in the process, users are increasingly confronted with the reality that their data is being constantly mined. Last week the European Parliament, industry groups, and companies, reached an agreement on a packet of laws that aim to increase consumer privacy protections through better communication with users. The legislation also aims to outline the boundaries for law enforcement and businesses with regard to their access to user data.

Google responded after the agreement by asking users, once again, to agree the collection of their data. Aside from being a legally necessary move, this is indicative of trends in the industry that have resulted from greater user participation. Users also more aware of the value of everything they upload, and are seeking out services that value their content, and are willing to compensate them for it.

However, companies like Facebook, that offer no direct value to the user, have increasingly come under scrutiny for their practices. Facebook has been reluctant to roll facial recognition technology out to Europe and Canada, perhaps because of tighter data regulations. Facebook is already facing lawsuits over facial recognition in the U.S., relating to the storing data deemed too sensitive or identifying.

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