Study day on the internet and privacy at The Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority

March 25, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Inside the Israeli Ministry of Justice, sits The Israeli Law, Information and Technology Authority (ILITA). It’s aim is to strengthen data protection and privacy issues in Israel. By all accounts, it appears to be doing a very good job.

On Tuesday, 23 March, 2010, it held a study day on “issues relating to the collection and processing of data in the context of internet websites”. The talks were extremely interesting, even for a non-lawyer like myself. What struck me, though, is the extent to which lawyers and legislators are struggling today with technologies that have been around for years, particularly cookies. If they still haven’t worked out how to deal with them, what chance that the law will look forward and think about how it might deal with emerging technologies in the future?

An interesting issue that came up a number of times was that of informed consent. Informed consent is deemed crucial before a company can start processing data from a user. However, how should this be received? Is it enough to place a privacy policy in legalese in order to cover your backside? What if the privacy policy is in clear language? Does that mean that anyone is more likely to read it? And if you ask people to click to accept the site’s terms and conditions, does anyone read them? And even if they did read them, would they necessarily understand them? Do they know what an IP address is? Or a clickstream? Or behavioral targeting? How do you receive informed consent about something that really is very complicated indeed? Should the state step in and adopt paternalistic legislation, based on the assumption that people don’t want their privacy abused, but are not able to understand if the site they are entering into an agreement with is going to abuse their privacy?