When the Privacy Band-aid Fails

It is inevitable here that technology will fall victim as collateral damage. Talk show hosts will rage, and the blogosphere will rumble about the ill effects of a world in which an increasing amount of our lives — and therefore our personal, private information — traffics online. And maybe such a fiery dialog does some good, if only to place the issue of privacy for personal information in the spotlight. But such a dialog must continue and somehow translate to real world results.

Technology is the innocent bystander here. There is nothing inherently bad about placing personal information online, and in many cases doing so provides advantages across a wide range of fields, and yes, even for government. Too often, however, the privacy aspect of a new policy is an afterthought, a talking point scrawled in the margin of a prepared text.

The key is that privacy protection has to be a part of the process from the beginning, not a patchwork fix, applied in the harsh light of a spiking news cycle.

Leslie Harris is president and CEO of the Center for Democracy & Technology.

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