Talking about Privacy and the Protection of Personal Data is a varied and broad topic. Let’s go step by step.

The Concept of Modern Privacy

Leaving aside Ancient Greece, it can be said that the Modern Concept of Privacy was born when the lawyer Samuel Warren and his colleague the lawyer Louis Brandeis, in Boston in 1890, to put a stop to the interference of the press pervasive photojournalism, wrote “The right to privacy” in the Harvard Law Review.

The essay was based on the concept of “the right to be left alone” . In recent times, due to the pervasiveness of new technologies, the right to privacy has expanded to the point that the German Constitutional Court, in 1983, came to theorize the “right to informational self-determination”.

In practice, the interested party has the power to establish which and how much information to share with others. Modern privacy, however you want to call it (confidentiality, privacy, etc.), today expresses this concept of domination – of the physical person – over his personal data.

Right to Privacy in Europe

In Europe, the Right to Privacy has met this need mainly by attempting to limit the possibility of states with less evolved legislation to control their own citizens. Thus the Community Directive 95/46 of 1995 saw the light which was implemented by the various States with different national transposition laws for DarkComet.

Privacy in Italy

Italy thus published Law 675 of 1996 which established the main lines of the current system which, with Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Union (hereinafter, “RGPD”) , has been harmonized and innovated.

Recital (6) of the GDPR states:

“The speed of technological evolution and globalization bring about new challenges for the protection of personal data.

The scope of sharing and collecting personal data has increased significantly.

Current technology allows both private companies and public authorities to use personal data, as never before, in carrying out their activities. Increasingly, individuals are making personal information about them available to the public worldwide.

Technology has transformed the economy and social relations and should further facilitate the free flow of personal data within the Union and their transfer to third countries and international organisations, while ensuring a high level of protection of personal data”.

So in fact the RGPD, published more than twenty years after directive 95/46, known as the mother privacy directive, takes into account new technologies (Internet, first of all, as well as mobile phones, computers, smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, fitbits)  which, as never before in human history, they allow for the collection of an infinite amount of information, even the most intimate, about people and their online and offline activities . 

GDPR: what is its purpose?

The primary purpose of the GDPR is to allow the national privacy authorities – in Italy the Privacy Guarantor – to put a stop to the activity of the so-called “Over The Top”  such as: 

  • Amazon
  • Google
  • Facebook
  • Microsoft
  • Apple

These companies exploit this data to provide services, apparently free for the user.

But beware! When you don’t pay for a service it’s usually because you are the product!

I remember that Umberto Eco, in a provocative article in a newspaper recently wrote about the natural exhibitionistic vocation of people, evident in the use of social networks:

“Then why worry so much about privacy? Nobody cares about it. The important thing, in order to exist, is to be seen”.

However, from another point of view, it is also true that no one would be happy to go around a shopping center with a tag pinned behind his back listing his preferences, purchases, wish lists, shops visited or seconds passed in front to a shop window .

But this is what is currently happening online!

Big Data and Privacy

If a century ago the most precious resource was oil, today, a new “product” is favoring the uncontainable expansion of an enormously lucrative industry: our personal data. The so-called Big Data .

It is therefore clear that the “privacy” issue impacts on our being men or women, citizens (the Cambridge Analytica scandal which saw Facebook in the role of negative protagonist has shown how with the expert use of data it is also possible to influence democratic elections ), parents and users .

The issue is so vast and pervasive that it is capable of impacting our daily lives even at a corporate and business level . Factors we certainly cannot afford to ignore!