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    Opinion at Computerworld: iPhone location-tracking incident boosts stock of ‘privacy by design’

    In an opinion column at Computerworld, Jay Cline considers the concept of “privacy by design,” which builds privacy protection into products from their initial design, rather than at a later point in the process:

    What does the world’s most valuable company now have in common with the following initiatives?

    * Online-behavioral tracking * Deep-packet inspection * Persistent cookies * Unique microchip identifiers * Single sign-on for all Web commerce * Paying by fingerprint * Street View Wi-Fi sniffing * Admiral Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness program

    The common denominator? Privacy quicksand. This is the sandy arena frequented by regulators and legislators and stirred up by privacy advocates. Once your project or technology walks into this particular sand trap, it’s hard to pull your reputation out of the mud.

    The operating dynamic of privacy quicksand is that first impressions count more than facts. This is because people instinctively are wary of large and powerful organizations and assume the worst. If your organization’s new product or technology could spy on its users, they’ll assume it’s happening. The end result of walking into the privacy quicksand is that your project usually gets scaled back or canceled. […]

    The maker of the world’s most popular smartphone has found itself under this scrutiny because of a report two researchers issued last month that claimed that Apple was storing iPhone users’ location data in an unencrypted file in their iTunes accounts. […]

    People who do privacy for a living are saying Apple could have avoided this diversion. They’re pointing to the “privacy by design” methodology as the way to make sure new products and technologies don’t walk into the privacy quicksand. […]

    To people outside the privacy profession, making privacy protection a standard design requirement sounds like basic common sense. But the norm in both the private and public sectors is to handle privacy reactively and minimally. […]

    Is privacy by design the sure guide, though? […] But it’s gaining traction. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission’s landmark privacy-framework paper issued in December 2010 — which arguably sets the direction for U.S. privacy legislation and rulemaking for the coming several years — cites privacy by design as one of its four pillars. In October 2010, commissioners at the 32nd annual conference of international data-protection commissioners rallied around the privacy by design flag in its final resolution.

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