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Internet Governance 16 September 2010

These are interesting rights…

Why is private data of businesses or bodies corporate held as property yet the private communications of an individual do not get this treatment? By the end of the future of privacy workshop, this was one of the questions that occurred to me.

Enlightening? Certainly. There were generally two views, that either we need the laws to adopt to changing times or that we need need new laws to adopt to these times as far as privacy is concerned. Whatever the case, I heard of rights some of which have never before occurred to me before as rights. These are the rights that are likely to comprise the future of privacy….Here are some:


the right not to be stalked

the right of in large excess

the right not to be bound by a decision taken by a machine

the right to have data erased

the right to oblivion or

the right to be forgotten

the right to be left alone.


How will these rights be achieved and implemented?

Some panelists said there is need to review existing laws, such as the European Convention to incorporate these emerging needs. Others thought that there was need to implement privacy by design technologies. Overall, there was an emphasis on incorporating social aspects in privacy, for example by ensuring transparency and usability in user interfaces.  I thought that as a Kenyan, seeing as we do not yet have adequate privacy and data protection laws, we still have the benefit of experience – we can learn from those who have tried and tested these laws. But fundamentally, we have to let people know that privacy is a right that exists to protect their wellbeing!

While I enjoyed and was enlightened by this forum, I still felt that for the privacy discussion to find a place in my community in Kenya, it would have to be in the context of mobile communications. Mostly because this is a big area as far as personal communications are concerned and also because most of the complaints I have had to do with privacy were related to unwanted text messages . But I realise that the world is growing faster than I, and I should not be surprised to meet people looking to enact the “right not to bound by a decision taken by a machine”

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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