Over the past decade, the privacy framework has become preoccupied with organizational data management processes grouped under the title “accountability.” While improving corporate governance and mitigating data security risks (no doubt admirable goals), accountability measures generate little benefit to individuals. Indeed, by treating organizations as trusted stewards of personal information, accountability cuts individuals out of the decisionmaking process. You want privacy? Walmart or Pfizer will take care of it for you.
In a new article, Big Data for All: Privacy and User Control in the Age of Analytics, which will be published in the Northwestern Journal of Technology and Intellectual Property, Jules Polonetsky, CIPP/US, and Omer Tene try to refocus the privacy framework on individual empowerment. They argue that going forward, organizations should provide individuals with practical, easy-to-use access to their information, so they can become productive participants in the data economy. In addition, organizations should be transparent about the decisional criteria underlying their data processing activities, allowing individuals to challenge, or at the very least understand, how decisions about them are made.