The monthly law journal which covers all aspects of data protection and data privacy: data transfer & outsourcing, marketing and e-marketing, freedom of information (FOI), employee monitoring, privacy compliance, online data acquisition and consent, personal data, website compliance and emerging technologies such as behavioural advertising, cloud computing and smart grids. / read more
At the recent cyber summit hosted by the White House at Stanford University, Apple’s CEO Tim Cook gave a brief speech in which he said, “We believe we can bring about a future that fully embraces both privacy and security.” Many of the headlines that followed Cook’s speech focused on the political connotations of his message and how stung the tech industry is by the US Government’s attempt to make them play ball in the fight against terror. However, those words are especially meaningful because of who Cook is and what he represents. Technological rivalries aside, it would be difficult to argue that Apple is not a pioneer of innovation and digital development. Apple does not have a monopoly of innovative thinking but it is certainly a leader in that respect. So the fact that Cook chose to make such a bold statement in defence of privacy is not only a very clear indication of privacy’s compatibility with innovation, but proof of its crucial role going forward.
Every single reader of this article is likely to have encountered a ‘privacy cynic’ - someone who regards privacy and data protection as progress-blockers. Sometimes, privacy cynics are those whose main role within their organisations is to get things done. They stop at nothing and only pay attention to milestones on a project plan, so anything that gets in the way is regarded as unhelpful. Occasionally, it is the big-time decision makers who roll their eyes when they hear the words ‘data protection’ as if this was too trivial an issue to merit their attention. In all these cases, privacy is seen as being irrelevant to success and more akin to political correctness than to business development. But here is where Cook’s words become revealing, as they are an acknowledgement that even at the top of the innovation scale, privacy is essential for our future.
Eduardo Ustaran Partner
Hogan Lovells, London