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Emerging technologies sounding death knell to Privacy, requirement of new governance structures

Significant technological advances are being made across a range of fields, including information communications technology (ICT); artificial intelligence (AI), particularly in terms of machine learning and robotics; nanotechnology; space technology; biotechnology; and quantum computing. The technological advances are driven by a digital revolution and need to gather, process, and analyze enormous reams of data. These advances promise significant social and economic benefits, increased efficiency, and enhanced productivity across a host of sectors. The technologies are mostly dual use, in that they can be used as much to serve malicious or lethal purposes in the hands of hackers and terrorists.

 

One of the threats from emerging technologies have been privacy threat.  ICT technologies like Wi-Fi hotspots, mobile internet, and broadband connections has made us online for predominant part of our daily lives. While  living in an ever-more connected world provides us with easier access to  lot of useful services and information, it also exposes  large amounts of our personal information including our personal data, habits, and life to a wider world. Depending on  your browsing habits, the websites and services you visit, all manner of data from  your birthday, address and marital status can be harvested from your online presence.

 

Wi-Fi hotspots often have weak or no form of security or encryption,  which allow hackers to easily snoop on the data going between your device, the hotspot and the web. Some hotspots have a web portal that require you to part with your email or login via Facebook or Twitter, meaning you have to part with some of your personal details, potentially opening you up to email spam, or force you to provide permission for the Wi-Fi service to have access to your social media posts.

 

There is growth of  new type of recommendation industry wherin Google, Facebook or Twitter can track what people read, watch and post and can assign scores and values to rank their interests and even their possible political leanings to ensure that when they’re selling people’s information to advertisers, it’s incredibly accurate, thus receiving top dollar. Services like Google Maps can also track your real-time and historic location by default, could lead to always being stalked by faceless tech companies.

 

Emerging Privacy threats

The ongoing deployment of Fifth Generation (5G) mobile networks promise including fast Internet for everyone, smart cities, driverless cars, critical health care, “internet of things” revolution, and reliable and secure communications for critical infrastructures and services. The coming 5G standard while offering  towering benefits, such as enhanced speed and performance, lower latency, and better efficiency,  will also come with  enhanced risks. 5G networks will support a massive number of connected devices, which together with an elevated use of virtualization and the cloud will equate to many more 5G security threats and a broader, multifaceted attack surface.

 

These risks may include cybersecurity vulnerabilities that may be exploited to gain unauthorised access to information (cyberespionage, be it for economic or political reasons) or for other malicious purposes (cyberattacks aimed at disrupting or destroying systems and data). With advancements in data mining technologies, retrieval of user privacy information has been made easier. Therefore, user privacy information must be securely protected in the 5G network so that users and vertical industries can use the network without worrying about information leakage.

 

Another example is the next revolution is “Internet of Living Things (IoLT),” or the “Internet of Bodies,” the set of networks that includes wearable sensors like Fitbits, intelligent implants inside and outside our bodies, brain-computer interfaces, and even portable DNA sequencers are connected to internet sending information to the cloud. Smart TVs, fridges, thermostats, and speakers might seem like futuristic tech, but they can pose a threat to privacy. Smart speakers, TVs and cameras could end up  spying on you all the time, which, whether deliberately or not, would be a massive breach of privacy.

 

The Internet of Living Things (IoLT), or the “Internet of Bodies”  will produce life-saving innovations, prevent or treat disease, improve human health and  maybe even live longer  by monitoring every body function, and keeping tabs on our personal health. It will also enhance privacy threats to new levels.The embedded microchips will expose the most private aspects of our lives, our medical information.

 

Countries worldwide have data privacy laws for personal health information that is collected by medical professionals. Violating the privacy of medical information is met with severe punishments such as fines, revocation of medical licenses and even jail time in the most egregious cases. However, monitoring and sifting through human behaviors and physiology on such a grand scale, also has downsides. As smart devices in health care evolve, the line between human and machine is blurring and creating new concerns about consumer safety and privacy rights. It also raises serious concerns regarding cybersecurity, privacy and sensitive data protection.

 

The merging of the growth of the Internet of Bodies, and AI technology will further exacerbate existing cybersecurity vulnerabilities. The worst fears are safety threats, and threat of remote assassination or internet-enabled murder.

 

Government spying

Some governments carry out online surveillance and don’t really allow their citizens to web browse privately. In the UK, the Investigatory Powers Act allows government authorities to legally spy on the browsing and internet use of British citizens. As such, the government can directly breach your online privacy if they suspect you may be involved in criminal activity, though they need to apply for a warrant to do so, which should mean the average person isn’t being spied on by MI5.

 

However, the Investigatory Powers Act forces internet service companies to collect metadata on their customers and hold it for twelve months, which with a warrant can be collected in bulk by a government authority and used to combat terrorism or stop organised crime. Another threat of technologies like 5G, and The Internet of Living Things (IoLT) is government surveillance which can track every move of its cittizens. Now they could not only read your email or hear phone conversations but also measure your pulse as well or record our DNA.

 

Security of privacy

From tweaking web browser extensions and settings, to using VPNs and anonymous search engines; plenty of tools can help you enjoy the fruit of the internet without sacrificing your online privacy. Again, the use of a VPN or a proxy server can help boost your online privacy by hiding your IP address from the prying eyes of government agents and the police.

 

Experts are examining Legal, privacy and ethical implications inherent in advances related to the Internet of Bodies, asking questions such as who should have access to the data, how it can be protected from those who shouldn’t have access, how tech companies can protect clients from malicious hackers who could remotely wreak havoc on someone’s body, and what role, if any, health information privacy rules should play.

 

There is need to carry out appropriate risk assessment to addresses cybersecurity and privacy risks in modern technologies such as 5G networks and Internet of Living Things (IoLT), and explore new governance structures, tools, and processes of best risk management measures.

 

Due to regulatory implications following the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the upcoming Indian cyber security policy, there will be a greater awareness on the need for data privacy and cyber security amidst organizations and individuals. This trend will continue in 2020 and beyond. This will establish the culture of security and invoke businesses to adopt proactive approach to data privacy and cyber security rather than a reactive one.

 

 

“Privacy by Design” Approach

Privacy shouldn’t be treated as an added feature once the product or service has been built and marketed. It must be encompassed in the entire design. In 2020, more businesses will adopt the Privacy by Design approach while creating new technologies and systems. Privacy will be incorporated into tech and systems, by default, which means products or services will be designed with privacy as a priority, along with whatever other purpose the system serves.

 

 

References and Resources also include:

https://www.eletimes.com/top-upcoming-trends-in-cyber-security

https://www.pocket-lint.com/apps/news/143404-7-biggest-privacy-threats-online

 

About Rajesh Uppal

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