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Communications of the ACM

Privacy and security

What Regulators Can Do to Advance Privacy Through Design


cell phone with window blind, illustration

The perception that privacy is losing an arms race with technology is a constant source of public anxiety, and regulatory action. Many privacy and data protection laws directly respond to advances in technology—from cameras, to large databases, to the Internet, to cellular, to sensors. The paradigm plays out over and over again: technology erodes privacy, regulations are passed to protect it.

Ongoing revelations about the National Security Agency's massive data collection activities, and success at circumventing encryption in consumer products, at times with the cooperation—perhaps begrudging—of the corporate sector, suggest that efforts to strengthen the privacy features of technical systems are timely and necessary even in democratic countries.


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