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To log or not to log?” Cyber security agency ENISA reports on future impact of life-logging & online personal data; and the effects on privacy, economy, society and people’s psychology

November 2011 by ENISA

ENISA is looking ahead to 2014 to predict positive and negative effects of online, "life-logging" on citizens and society. In a new report, “To log or not to log? Risks and benefits of emerging life-logging technologies,” the Agency uses a fictional family’s day-to-day lives, and examines the impact for their privacy, the “family wallet”, psychology, etc., as they put ever more personal information online. It includes recommendations towards addressing security and privacy risks.

For citizens across Europe, the benefits of sharing information through social media, access goods and services via new applications are immense. Families and friends can stay in touch, and government services can be accessed through new applications. The report examines both advantages and risks of people’s increasing use of online applications. But to use the benefits, people need to upload personal information; be it personal thoughts, videos, or financial data, to internet locations over which they have little control. For individuals, that implies threats to privacy, loss of personal data control, harm to your reputation and the possibility of psychological damage from exclusion or the feeling of constant surveillance. For commercial organisations, there is the risk of breaching data protection laws, resulting in legal sanctions and irreversible damage to reputation. Governments may suffer losses of public confidence if they are perceived not to be properly protecting their citizens’ personal information.

Commenting on the report, the Executive Director of ENISA, Professor Udo Helmbrecht, said: “The original feature of our report is that it proves how information security risks impacts several aspects of citizens and society; it connects the benefits of life-logging, while considering privacy and data protection aspects too.”

Recommendations include:

- For the European Commission; to use the report in the current revision of the data protection directive and to promote security and privacy risk management as a framework,

- For governments; to create a regulatory environment with incentives for privacy-aware devices and services to support competition, interoperability, and to introduce sanctions for personal data breaches

- For service providers; to consider the security/privacy impacts of new services, and to use strong security controls to protect individuals’ personal data.

Background European Commission 2010 Communication on Personal Data Protection


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