On September 11, 2001 I was living and working in Dallas, Texas helping build an inspiring startup called The Privacy Council. The company was later sold, but at the time our mission was to help companies better manage complex privacy regulations and policy using technology in a rapidly changing world impacted by technology.
When the Twin Towers came crashing down, along with everyone else, I instantly realized that the world had changed forever. In addition to great sorrow, anger, and confusion, I immediately became concerned for the thousands of innocent people and brave souls who lost their lives needlessly. Gnawing at my gut was another alarming realization: we were about to embark on a new era that could drastically disrupt the equilibrium and balance between fundamental personal freedoms like privacy and a new call for security and surveillance in a drastically changed world.
Not only had the world been brutally attacked in a physical sense, but in an instant I feared the Shock and Awe of it all might create a frenzy and gravely impact our world in ways that would cut at our core beliefs and values. In addition to being scared for our nation, I wondered if a wave of policy and cultural changes would hit us like a tsunami and cause deeper harm to our liberty and pursuit of happiness?
So the day after September 11, I drafted the Ten Commandments of Ethical Surveillance with the then Privacy Council CEO Dr. Larry Ponemon. We published them on September 13, only two days after that horrendous day, yet well before The Patriot Act, PRISM, or any of the new NSA surveillance programs that have come to light as a result of the Snowden documents.
I thought it would be well worth republishing the original press release as a reminder again that equilibrium is healthy. While the final chapters have certainly not yet been written, it is as clear to me today as it was in September 2001 that our world needs a careful balance between the need for security while protecting fundamental rights that give us the ability to be free, happy and healthy.
ORIGINAL PRESS RELEASE:
Protecting Privacy and Personal Security -- Our World's Need for a Careful
Balance and the Ten Commandments of Ethical Surveillance
DALLAS, Sept. 13 /PRNewswire/ --
Now more than ever our nation and our world must carefully balance our right to personal freedoms like privacy with our need for public safety. New standards are now required to protect us all. Privacy Council announced that it is establishing the Council of Ethical Surveillance and today published the Ten Commandments of Ethical Surveillance.
A powerful breed of criminals and their tragic acts of inhumane terrorism now force us to seriously consider how we protect public safety in a way we could not have imagined only a few days ago. This protection must be balanced with the rights of individuals as related to their personal privacy and the technological advances in collecting personal data.
Clearly there will be a call for increased security and surveillance systems and we will see a deployment of new systems and technologies to ferret out criminals. The intent will be good, but while doing so it is imperative that we do not give way to compromising our fundamental rights as citizens of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Standards will still be required. Rules must still be set. And, we must carefully develop systems that will transform data and technology into the guardian of the public good.
"Threats to our way of life challenge us to address and balance conflicting needs of our society," said Dr. Ponemon. "We should not have to give up our fundamental rights of freedom, privacy and security. We need to advance these freedoms and maintain our personal securities by weighing the balance between privacy and security, and most importantly understanding how they can work to protect one another if we advance them together, carefully, and with standards."
Whatever we do, we must not be forced to choose between privacy and freedom. We must work to find balance or we will have lost. Privacy and security must work together to protect the public good.
The Ten Commandments of Ethical Surveillance(TM)
Privacy Council is assembling the Council of Ethical Surveillance, a group of government and business leaders, authorities, and privacy and security experts to ensure that the balance between privacy and security work together to protect our individual freedoms while providing more protection and public safety.
During this important time, we have defined the Ten Commandments of Ethical Surveillance -- conducting surveillance as to not marginalize the individual or violate their rights to personal privacy:
1. Do not tip your hand to the 'bad guy.' However, notice and disclosure about the broad process must be provided.
2. Establish clear reporting channels to authorities for suspicious activity.
3. Always treat this data with the highest level of privacy.
4. Never use data for any other purpose than to protect the safety and welfare of the public.
5. Share individuals' 'risk status' with other companies on a need to know basis only. All other sharing of data between companies should require the consent of the customer, employee, or individual.
6. Use the highest level of data security.
7. Establish redress by companies for individuals mistreated or whose data is misused during this process.
8. Impose strict enforcement mechanisms with serious consequences by authorities over the misuse of data.
9. Ensure that use of biometrics and other security and monitoring technologies produce high-quality results and minimize false positives.
10. Establish an independent system of checks and balances to verify and ensure that this process is not being misused.
Privacy Council, (http://www.privacycouncil.com ) is a knowledge and technology company headquartered in Richardson, Texas, a major tech center for many U.S. corporations, and has offices in San Jose, California and Washington, D.C. With leading privacy experts in the fields of financial services, health care and telecommunications, Privacy Council delivers expert privacy knowledge and technology solutions to companies concerned about achieving compliance with their stated privacy and data protection policies and new regulatory requirements.