The personal data protection: a major challenge for the digital society

Discover the privacy challenges in our digital society

ID security and privacy issues

People are now immersed in an ubiquitous fixed and mobile computerized environment, with individuals being interconnected via the Internet, wireless networks, RFID chips, Machine to Machine exchanges, etc. They leave digital footprints of their actions and centres of interest everywhere, without being aware that these are markers of their identity. Personalised services, the real commercial “driving force” of the Internet a source of new services, particularly in the world of commerce, or even social networks, are raising ID security and privacy issues. The danger resides in particular in the correlations that can be done between the collected data. Even if the personal or private data is not published, it can often be collected from public websites through inference and extraction techniques. Privacy protection therefore represents a major issue for the society.

Control of personal data 

Important actions have been carried out for developing effective techniques for protection such as the PET (Privacy Enhancing Technologies), relating to minimizing data and the control of their personal data by the subject. Other approaches are starting: making data anonymous, providing the right to be removed from the Internet or the free and informed expression of consent in the transmission of personal data. In addition, the design of solutions responding to the problems underlined by the protection of privacy requires various cutting edge skills in computing, in particular: Id security, communication networks, data search, cryptography, programming languages, formal methods, etc. The solutions are more often requiring the combination of several of these skills in order to achieve the objectives aimed for. Protecting credentials through the use of trusted pieces of HW (smart tokens) acting as portable digital safe is clearly the most secure approach for combining security and privacy requirements.

Apart from the technological and regulatory issues, it is important not to forget the economic dimension of privacy. This means not only regarding its ability to overcome the handicap of distrust, which is holding up access to new services that are useful to society, but also its intrinsic ability to generate industrial activity through the solutions that it requires, in particular relating to making secure information exchanges and transactions.