UBA News (#07-08 July-August 2017)

Data Privacy and Security in the Digital Era

On 27 July 2017 the Ukrainian Bar Association ICT Committee organized a meeting with Patrick M. Bell, an American data protection expert. During the event the speaker described ways to protect data in the United States, EU and other jurisdictions around the world with participants.

Patrick M. Bell is a lecturer at the International University of Florida and the University of George Washington, specializing in administrative law and data management. In Ukraine, he is also an invited professor of the Fulbright Program who is carrying out an investigation about the information war being waged by the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

Opening the event, Mr. Bell put a question to the audience about the importance of Data protection and Security in the Digital Era. When discussing this topic the expert pointed out that the amount of data being created and stored is growing exponentially. Every second 1.7 megabytes of information are created. The amount of data created in just two years is more than all the data created up to this point.

This data is not just funny videos or pictures, as most personal information, including medical information, intimate details of a person and his/her family are stored in servers that are located around the planet. The largest data storage center is located in Langfang, China.

The speaker continued his report with the US Law perspective in mind and position of the current Trump administration in the event of the sale of their personal data to third parties. There is no Federal Law on this issue. In the USA protected information is identically identifiable information (PII — personal identifying information). This is information that can be used alone or with other information for identification, contact or search for a specific person. The position of the US President does not consider it necessary to reward owners for the sale of their personal data to third parties. Mr. Bell adheres to the idea that if your information was to be passed to third parties you should be rewarded for this.

Certain groups are vulnerable populations and, therefore, in need of increased protection. In addition, one of that groups that received special attention includes children, especially those under 13 years of age. There is US Federal Law on the protection of children’s rights in the Internet — Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that was signed by President B. Clinton on 21 October 1998. This document provides four bases for such protection, namely: і) to enhance parental involvement in a child’s online activities (to protect the privacy of children) іі) to protect the safety of children online in services where they may make public posting of identifying information ііі) to maintain the security of children’s personal information collected online іv) to limit the collection of personal information from children without parental consent. The law does not solve all problems, as a child can also confirm the receipt of permission from parents in one click. In addition, there are non-identifying channels of information transfer that carry out transfer functions and are not responsible for the content of transmitted data.      

Today, a huge amount of data is transmitted using smartphones, which are already used as a payment instrument. In Ukraine there are more phones than people (57.5 million phones).

When summing up, Mr. Bell stressed that in the near future specialists possessing both legal and technical knowledge would be in great demand and advised people to protect their data using a Virtual Private Network and anonymized web browsers like TOR.



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