Updating network security community's understanding of privacy

Submitted by Danny Weitzner on Mon, 2007-05-07 17:53. ::

The original appearance of this entry was in Danny Weitzner - Open Internet Policy

A few weeks ago a colleague reminded me of one of the early definitions of privacy in the computer security literature from Saltzer and Schroeder (The Protection of Information in Computer Systems):

“The term “privacy” denotes a socially defined ability of an individual (or organization) to determine whether, when, and to whom personal (or organizational) information is to be released.”

This view reflects the widely held view even today amongst computer security architects that the way to achieve privacy policy ends is to control the release of information. To this end, great effort has been expended to design systems that control access to and flow of personal, sensitive information. While there are certainly good reasons to do this, access control alone has not, and never will, be sufficient to achieve compliance with privacy, copyright or other information-related rules.