Friday, 5 July 2013

The value and price of privacy

Privacy and data protection are hot topics, especially in light of the development of the digital economy and the increasing use of cloud services. At the occasion of a recent meeting of the European Cloud Partnership Board, Commissioner Neelie Kroes observed that in this 'age of total information', the successful use of the cloud depends on 1) efficiency through scale and 2) trust that the data is stored securely.

In relation to the pending CJEU case of Google Spain (on which a post appeared on this blog last Tuesday), an interesting suggestion made by the Commissioner concerns the role of digital service providers in safeguarding privacy. While Advocate General Jääskinen's opinion in the Google case underlines the fact that it is still a topic of debate to what extent private actors are and should be responsible for the protection of privacy (in particular the 'right to be forgotten'), Kroes remarks that privacy protection can also offer service providers a competitive advantage. Cloud providers who (contractually) guarantee the safe storage of data may be more successful in attracting customers than those who cannot provide such terms of use. As such, private actors may perform a complementary role to public institutions in regard to the protection of fundamental rights.

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