How AI Is Changing the Conversation Around Privacy

The first time the concept of data privacy has been defined in modern times was in 1890 when US lawyer Samuel Warren and US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandais published their work on the "right to privacy" in Harvard Law Review.
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How AI Is Changing the Conversation Around Privacy

The first time the concept of data privacy has been defined in modern times was in 1890 when US lawyer Samuel Warren and US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandais published their work on the “right to privacy” in Harvard Law Review. The duo defined the concept as the right to be left alone from the technological developments of their time, such as photography and sensational journalism. 

Over the years, the concept of privacy has always been discussed in relation to developments in technology. The use of cameras, the introduction of computers for personal use, the development of digital identities, acceleration of data, and lastly, the rise of AI all changed the concept of privacy. 

As surveillance society’s tools take root in our world and personal data production doubles every two years, privacy rules need to be supported with robust legislative frameworks across continents to protect users’ rights in the digital sphere. 

In that sense, the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into full effect in May 2018, is regarded as a gold standard worldwide. What makes GDPR unique is that it requires any automated decision with “legal effects or similarly significant effects” such as employment, credit, insurance coverage, or resource allocation to be reviewed by a human and explain its logic. GDPR sets a human-in-the-loop component and provides a check on algorithmic decision making. Thus GDPR sets a sense of fairness and explains algorithmic decisions that might be biased and set grounds for discriminative groupings in the digital sphere. 

In Europe, GDPR replaced the 1995 Data Protection Directive, which was tailored for the time that when the internet was still in the early stages. However, there is still no overarching legislative body in the US that answers the changing definition of privacy in the face of globalization, convergence, and multimedia. The states have different data protection laws in the US, and there is no underlying federal legislation that protects the citizen’s rights online. For example, the cities of Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco in California and Brookline, Cambridge, Northampton, and Somerville in Massachusetts, have adopted bans due to concerns that facial recognition may lead to authoritarian control data consent. However, there is no such law in other states. 

Privacy is a fundamental human right, according to the UN Declaration of Human Rights enacted in 1948. It has also become one of the problematic human rights issues due to the change in data politics. In our times’ privacy encapsulates other issues that have not been in the picture before. For instance, discrimination was not a privacy issue a decade ago. However, since discriminative behavior can be traced in the AI framework’s automated decisions, our times’ legislative framework should also encapsulate related subjects within data privacy laws. 

The capacity to collect, analyze, and disseminate information increased drastically due to sophisticated information technologies.  This situation creates a sense of urgency for policymakers and activists to demand new legislation with bold and forward-looking rules. While governments look for new policy agendas, technologists found new initiatives to advocate for a digitally intelligent global community. A famous example is the former Cambridge Analytica employee, Brittany Kaiser’s new NGO called “Own Your Data.”  

“Own Your Data” not only curates training for digital intelligence education in local school systems but also help people stay informed about the principles and conditions of digital lives and make informed choices. Awareness is critical for today’s data acceleration because personal data on every one of us is collected and stored. AI is likely to accelerate data collection in terms of volume, variety, and velocity. Thus AI companies and producers should be subject to specific regulations to keep consumers’ privacy in check. As Orientis, we pay utmost importance to take part and/or lead projects that are human-centric and that are for the betterment of the human condition.