Saturday, 16 January 2010

PETs - economic benefits - EU

As part of an ongoing European Commission project, in June 2009 the Directorate General for Justice Freedom and Security (DG JLS) commissioned London Economics to conduct a study on the economic benefits of privacy enhancing technologies or PETs.

They presented their Interim Report at a Commission workshop on the economic benefits of PETs on 12 November 2009 at which there were several other presentations, including by representatives from the UK Information Commissioner's Office and other regulators, consultants Accenture, and the Center for Democracy and Technology.

See the 20-pg report on the workshop proceedings, where the interim report seems to have met with some criticism:

"Caspar Bowden launched the Q&A session with a scathing attack on the Interim Report, highlighting a fundamental lack of both definition and categorisation of PETs. He went on to assess the results so far as being predictable as a result of questions which were too vague. He sited a list of terms which he suggested should be fundamental to any report on PETs, and which were missing: zero-sum, minimisation, subject access, transparency, threat model, onion routing, differential privacy…, and a “total blindness in the Report to any […] notion of personal data”. In response,
Moritz Godel accepted there was indeed a weakness with reference to the current research on PETs from a Computer Science perspective. Caspar Bowden reiterated his concerns that there appeared to be a general lack of understanding on the subject and that the questions being asked were too simplistic – much of these concerns into the validity and competence of the Report to-date were echoed by a number of other speakers including in particular John Borking and Stephan Engberg."

If the interim report failed to deal with data minimisation, the concept of "personal data" etc, I can quite see why attendees felt it was disappointing.

Unfortunately I can't seem to find a copy of the interim report itself. However, there are copies of the workshop presentations / papers on the Commission events webpage, including on:

As previously mentioned the ICO had last year commissioned research to develop a "compelling"business case for investing in proactive privacy protection (see the progress report). It'll be interesting to see the final version when it comes out.

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