Increasingly a major challenge for businesses is how to balance the need for real-time data and still protect the privacy of personal data. With information becoming so mobile and real-time on the internet, there is a real danger of people losing their Gather Australia rights to privacy and even their freedoms. The question for businesses and society is how can people enjoy rich, real-time information, and not lose their freedoms?

The Personal Data Privacy Challenge. Ideally, data needed for an application is freely available. Free, accessible data is easy to move and transfer between computers in real-time. There are challenges when data is Personally Identifiable Information (PII). This is information that can be used to uniquely identify, contact, or locate a single person or can be used with other sources to uniquely identify a single individual. In these situations data is needed to be protected both at rest (storage) and in motion. This can be done through procedural methods such as password protection or the use of encryption. More and more businesses and application developers are balancing the need for the free movement of data versus the need for personal data privacy.

The Social Debate of Personal Privacy. Our society as a whole is still coming to terms with personal data privacy versus reaping the benefits of social networks and real-time data. An example of this is where Facebook made their privacy policy significantly less restrictive for their hundreds of millions of subscribers. See RWW’s posting Facebook’s Zuckerberg Says The Age of Privacy is Over, for more on Facebook’s privacy changes. My comments on this were as follows:

“Is Facebook’s privacy settings leading us into a new era of social openness or are they arrogantly deciding for us that we need no privacy? I do not like Facebook’s cavalier and drastic approach in changing their privacy policy, but the real question is whether their privacy policy is reflecting social norms, and as a society should we be giving a way our privacy for the benefits of social networking.

Privacy is so closely tied to freedom. If someone wants to control you and knows everything about you, they can control you and take your freedom away. If someone wants to control you and they have no information about you, it is difficult for them to control you.

In the decades before the internet, Americans had a lot of privacy. I would say that this was not always the norm. When the U.S. was first founded, your neighbor’s usually knew everything about you. If you committed adultery, you received a Scarlet Letter. Everyone knew it. It was not until our society started to become more mobile that we began to have a high degree of privacy.

Now with information becoming so mobile, we are losing our privacy again. How can we enjoy all this rich, real-time information, and not lose our freedoms?”

The benefits of real-time data versus the risk of losing personal data privacy is a thorny issue. Businesses will need to balance these issues in light of customer needs, Government guidance, and business service offerings.