Terms and Conditions: Privacy and Security in the Social Age
Wednesday night, I attended the LegalTech New York viewing of Terms and Conditions May Apply, and I was blown away. I try to be a smart consumer, and I am a protective parent. But after watching this film I wondered if my children and I had traded a little too much privacy for some of life’s conveniences. Like most of you reading this, I have often clicked “I accept” to Terms and Conditions agreements without ever reading the six-point type.
In follow-up to the film, we were honored to have Terms and Conditions director, Cullen Hoback, as a member of the Privacy and Security keynote panel moderated by Monica Bay, editor in chief, Law Technology News. The other panel members were Donna Payne, CEO of PayneGroup, and Lisa Sotto, managing partner at Hunton and Williams LLP, New York offices.
Sotto, who specializes in privacy and cybersecurity, reminded us that Europe is far stricter on privacy because it is viewed as a fundamental human right. She stated that in World War II Europe, personal information was used to put people to death (whereas in the United States data is used for security and point-of-sale marketing). This understanding of the historical context of privacy globally is critical to the discussion. She also informed the audience that the United States Cybersecurity Framework will be announced on Feb. 13.
Payne, who has a passion for privacy protection, stated she agrees with the need for data gathering to support national security measures but would like to be allowed to select what she shares. Payne is advocating that, as a first step, we request and review our medical records to make sure that the information that is shared is correct, perhaps saving some individuals from health care limitations due to data inaccuracies.
For director Hoback, there’s not a simple solution, and he specifically called out the time lag between protective legislation and technology innovation as a critical issue. For his part, he is advocating for legislation to frame data privacy within the context of our 4th Amendment rights. His position is that we enable innovation to continue but define a citizen’s right to protect personal data and choose what we are willing to share.
As a society, we are becoming more conscious of the balance between security, convenience and privacy – for ourselves and our children. Better understanding the terms and conditions we are asked to agree to is an important step in an informed decision about what are willing to barter in exchange for streaming music, timely coupons when we’re in the grocery store or directions to anywhere from wherever we’re standing at the moment.
So today, I’ll take a few minutes to read the hotel Internet Terms and Conditions before I upload this post to our blog. And that is just the first step in my journey to make conscious decisions about the privacy I’m willing to trade for convenience.