The GovLab Selected Readings on Personal Data: Security and Use

As part of an ongoing effort to build a knowledge base for the field of opening governance by organizing and disseminating its learnings, the GovLab Selected Readings series provides an annotated and curated collection of recommended works on key opening governance topics. In this edition, we explore the literature on Personal Data. To suggest additional readings on this or any other topic, please email biblio@thegovlab.org.

Data and its uses for GovernanceAdvances in technology have greatly increased the potential for policymakers to utilize the personal data of large populations for the public good. However, the proliferation of vast stores of useful data has also given rise to a variety of legislative, political, and ethical concerns surrounding the privacy and security of citizens’ personal information, both in terms of collection and usage. Challenges regarding the governance and regulation of personal data must be addressed in order to assuage individuals’ concerns regarding the privacy, security, and use of their personal information.

Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Annotated Selected Reading List (in alphabetical order)

Cavoukian, Ann. “Personal Data Ecosystem (PDE) – A Privacy by Design Approach to an Individual’s Pursuit of Radical Control.” Privacy by Design, October 15, 2013. http://bit.ly/18Q5KS2.

  • In this paper, Cavoukian describes the Personal Data Ecosystem (PDE), an “emerging landscape of companies and organizations that believe individuals should be in control of their personal data, and make available a growing number of tools and technologies to enable this control.” She argues that, “The right to privacy is highly compatible with the notion of PDE because it enables the individual to have a much greater degree of control – “Radical Control” – over their personal information than is currently possible today.”
  • To ensure that the PDE reaches its privacy-protection potential, Cavouckian argues that it must practice The 7 Foundational Principles of Privacy by Design:
    • Proactive not Reactive; Preventative not Remedial
    • Privacy as the Default Setting
    • Privacy Embedded into Design
    • Full Functionality – Positive-Sum, not Zero-Sum
    • End-to-End Security – Full Lifecycle Protection
    • Visibility and Transparency – Keep it Open
    • Respect for User Privacy – Keep it User-Centric

Kirkham, T., S. Winfield, S. Ravet, and S. Kellomaki. “A Personal Data Store for an Internet of Subjects.” In 2011 International Conference on Information Society (i-Society). 92–97.  http://bit.ly/1alIGuT.

  • This paper examines various factors involved in the governance of personal data online, and argues for a shift from “current service-oriented applications where often the service provider is in control of the person’s data” to a person centric architecture where the user is at the center of personal data control.
  • The paper delves into an “Internet of Subjects” concept of Personal Data Stores, and focuses on implementation of such a concept on personal data that can be characterized as either “By Me” or “About Me.”
  • The paper also presents examples of how a Personal Data Store model could allow users to both protect and present their personal data to external applications, affording them greater control.

OECD. The 2013 OECD Privacy Guidelines. 2013. http://bit.ly/166TxHy.

  • This report is indicative of the “important role in promoting respect for privacy as a fundamental value and a condition for the free flow of personal data across borders” played by the OECD for decades. The guidelines – revised in 2013 for the first time since being drafted in 1980 – are seen as “[t]he cornerstone of OECD work on privacy.”
  • The OECD framework is built around eight basic principles for personal data privacy and security:
    • Collection Limitation
    • Data Quality
    • Purpose Specification
    • Use Limitation
    • Security Safeguards
    • Openness
    • Individual Participation
    • Accountability

Ohm, Paul. “Broken Promises of Privacy: Responding to the Surprising Failure of Anonymization.” UCLA Law Review 57, 1701 (2010). http://bit.ly/18Q5Mta.

  • This article explores the implications of the “astonishing ease” with which scientists have demonstrated the ability to “reidentify” or “deanonmize” supposedly anonymous personal information.
  • Rather than focusing exclusively on whether personal data is “anonymized,” Ohm offers five factors for governments and other data-handling bodies to use for assessing the risk of privacy harm: data-handling techniques, private versus public release, quantity, motive and trust.

Polonetsky, Jules and Omer Tene. “Privacy in the Age of Big Data: A Time for Big Decisions.” Stanford Law Review Online 64 (February 2, 2012): 63. http://bit.ly/1aeSbtG.

  • In this article, Tene and Polonetsky argue that, “The principles of privacy and data protection must be balanced against additional societal values such as public health, national security and law enforcement, environmental protection, and economic efficiency. A coherent framework would be based on a risk matrix, taking into account the value of different uses of data against the potential risks to individual autonomy and privacy.”
  • To achieve this balance, the authors believe that, “policymakers must address some of the most fundamental concepts of privacy law, including the definition of ‘personally identifiable information,’ the role of consent, and the principles of purpose limitation and data minimization.”

Shilton, Katie, Jeff Burke, Deborah Estrin, Ramesh Govindan, Mark Hansen, Jerry Kang, and Min Mun. “Designing the Personal Data Stream: Enabling Participatory Privacy in Mobile Personal Sensing”. TPRC, 2009. http://bit.ly/18gh8SN.

  • This article argues that the Codes of Fair Information Practice, which have served as a model for data privacy for decades, do not take into account a world of distributed data collection, nor the realities of data mining and easy, almost uncontrolled, dissemination.
  • The authors suggest “expanding the Codes of Fair Information Practice to protect privacy in this new data reality. An adapted understanding of the Codes of Fair Information Practice can promote individuals’ engagement with their own data, and apply not only to governments and corporations, but software developers creating the data collection programs of the 21st century.”
  • In order to achieve this change in approach, the paper discusses three foundational design principles: primacy of participants, data legibility, and engagement of participants throughout the data life cycle.

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Did we miss anything? Please submit reading recommendations to biblio@thegovlab.org or in the comments below.

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