Privacy is both a traditional concept (often viewed as a fundamental right in many legal systems) and a fast-developing, contemporary area of legal and cultural concern. This duality is because the notion of privacy (and lack thereof) always reduces to fundamental societal factors (i.e., crossing accepted boundaries of finding things out about someone); yet how we live and interact with each other in society takes its expression in current technology and practices. Now we now live in an “information age”, where digital information is central to the functioning of most institutions as well as core to many individual practices (think: social networking sites). Because digital information inherently respects no physical boundaries or limitations, it can be more widely-accessed, and “spread” farther. The useful potential of this attribute has led to digital personal information becoming employed widely, and has brought many great advances and innovations; however, it also brings with it the risk of greater privacy violations.
Modern privacy violations may take the form of public release of personal information (PII) due to a third party “hack”, insider compromise of an organization holding PII, involuntary collection of certain information from clients/customers or the general public, improper divulgement of PII to third parties (including the government), “misuse” of information collected knowingly/permissively, or the aggregation of information in an unexpected way, or its use in a manner that individuals might find offensive or simply disturbing (even just creating a “digital proxy” for someone that is considered inaccurate by them).
In part due to the wave of high-profile, large scale data breaches in recent years, the Snowden leaks (which revealed warrantless surveillance by the US NSA), and concern for government surveillance and internet censorship in other countries worldwide (especially China and various Middle Eastern and North African countries in the wake of the Arab Spring), concern for privacy of digital information has reached an unprecedented level, becoming effectively a popular issue. In response, many governments have reacted, with, e.g., the NSA’s warrantless surveillance ended in the U.S., a resurgent Federal Trade Commission in the area of privacy and data security, and a Eurozone-wide Data Protection Directive in place and being actively enforced in the EU. In the private sector, virtually all major businesses enterprises are scrambling to protect themselves from data breaches and otherwise ensure their customers that their digital personal information is safe.
Yet, despite the conceptual neatness of the list of privacy violations above, the notion of a “privacy violation” is inherently a “fuzzy” concept. At root, whether there is a “violation” depends on whether people feel that a third party has accessed or found out “too much” information about them, and this in turn depends on legal formalisms, culture, context, and individual perception. Given this, it’s difficult enough for governments to pass universally-agreeable laws for their own citizens to protect their privacy (the U.S. hasn’t even tried, outside the specific domains of health and financial information) — but organizations operating at a global scope have the even more daunting challenge of addressing the privacy standards and concerns of governments and individuals worldwide.
Here at The Borrero Firm, we have the utmost respect for the privacy concerns of individuals, groups and nations worldwide, and acute awareness of the changing legal and cultural standards and current issues in the area. Indeed, we are ourselves “privacy buffs”, as well as certified privacy professionals who happen to also be attorneys. We bring this steeping in “all things privacy” to our practice of data breach legal advisory, helping clients to the address both the general privacy concerns of their customers as well as specific privacy issues in breach. We also respect and go to great lengths to uphold our clients’ privacy with us, bringing modern techniques to bear to establish and defend a “24/7″ privilege shield over client confidential information (a particularly acute concern in the data breach litigation arena). We think nothing less should be expected of lawyers operating in this digital age — especially those who profess to provide competent legal services in the field of privacy and data security!
Please contact us if you are interested in our privacy legal services, including:
Do not hesitate to contact us with any privacy concerns or queries you have beyond this list.
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