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Privacy Perspectives | Maybe 2015: A Not-So-Serious Look at the Year to Come in Privacy Related reading: The Year’s Best in Privacy Opinion


You can’t swing a dead cat without finding a commentator who thinks 2015 will be a huge year for privacy: The EU Regulation looms, the Year of the Breach will likely be followed by the Year of Scrambling, the FCC is newly active in the enforcement space, Cybersecurity legislation seems inevitable. The list goes on.

So, I thought I’d take a look in my crystal ball to see what the future ACTUALLY holds. Perhaps this will be helpful as you plan out your budgets and plan of attack for the New Year.

January: The NTIA’s search for a facial recognition standard takes a major leap forward. After hearing a biometrics industry representative say, once again, that people don’t have an expectation of privacy in a public place, Jeffrey Chester finally just stands up, yells, “I guess we’ll all have to wear Guy Fawkes masks then!,” and gives him the finger.

“That’s it,” cries the NTIA’s John Verdi, “we’ve got our method of opt out!”

Those who’d like not to be included in facial recognition programs simply give the finger to the camera over the door at each location they enter. Problem solved.

February: As fallout from the Sony breach continues, tensions with North Korea reach dizzying heights and fears of military engagement run rampant through the United States.

Finally, however, there is a breakthrough when Jennifer Lawrence fesses up to the whole thing: “Yeah, I just wanted y’all to get a taste of what it feels like to have your dirty laundry aired. Sorry about that whole global political fallout thing. Next time, I’ll just release naked pics of James and Seth.”

March: IAPP staffers are on edge as Glenn Greenwald kicks off the Global Privacy Summit in DC. Will attendees think their beloved membership organization is stocked with traitorous sympathizers?

CEO Trevor Hughes even has his “Hey, I’m Canadian” speech all prepared.

In the end, though, just a single Australian attendee stands up and walks out in a huff: “What?!? I came here to see Graham Greenleaf!”

April: Tired of criticisms from the Continent, Ireland decides to settle, once and for all, questions about its dedication to Internet privacy. First, the Houses of the Oireachtas pass a law, the Keep Privacy Solo Act, making violations of the data protection directive punishable by freezing in Carbonite. Then, Helen Dixon’s office decides to make an example of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Sure, the world loses one of its most innovative minds in the hoodie, but the whole affair does lead to this touching scene:

Facebook CPO Erin Egan: I love you.

Zuckerberg: I know.

May: Senator Al Franken (D-MN) has officially had it with Uber. Following reports that company executives spent a wild weekend using the “God View” to place bets on whether curly-haired guys with glasses would get invited up to women’s apartments for drinks, Franken issued a terse statement:

“The people of the United States deserve good things. They are entitled to their share of happiness. The God View is just stinkin’ thinkin’, Uber. You need a check up from the neck up.”

June: In an effort to get a wide-reaching cybersecurity bill passed before the summer break, all five FTC commissioners decide to camp out in John Boehner’s office until he pushes something through the House that defines reasonable security so they don’t have to.

Unfortunately, the effort falls apart when Commissioner Ohlhausen comments on Commissioner Brill’s UVM sleeping bag: “Ever wonder how it feels to have a state school with a football team?”

Commissioner Ramirez is unable to help herself and utters, “Hey, UVM football, undefeated since 1974!” The solidarity is irreparably broken.

July: On the one-year anniversary of CASL’s coming into force, it’s an opportunity to take stock. Polling reveals the general population doesn’t feel the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is doing enough to enforce the law.

Chairman and CEO Jean-Pierre Blais furiously denies that is the case: “What do these people want? We’ve been chasing this Nigerian Prince for a year now! It’s a long way to Africa, but we’re convinced we’ll soon track him down.”

August: Europeans are up in arms once again after revelations the NSA has been secretly collecting business-related emails from workers across the Continent. After a thorough investigation, it turns out NSA workers were just trying to figure out how Europeans managed to score the whole month of August off for vacation.

President Obama offered this apology: “Cultural mores are important, and sometimes they can lead to differences of opinion. Perhaps if the Europeans weren’t such layabouts, they wouldn’t have time to worry so much about privacy. Here in the U.S., we know nobody will care about government surveillance as long as we keep them chained to their cubicles. We’re sorry if anyone was offended.”

In retaliation, EDPS Giovanni Buttarelli has his Italian countrymen arrest Google’s Peter Fleischer, for old time’s sake.

September: Regulators around the globe are expressing concern about the new Snapchat release. Dubbed “Slapchat,” the new app lets parents know any time their children are sharing a photo they really shouldn’t be, so that they can immediately slap some sense into them.

“While these children certainly need a good spanking,” says A29 Working Party Chair Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin in a statement, “we’re not sure they have given their consent to have their data used in this way.”

October: The Trilogue negotiations on the new EU data protection regulation are at an impasse. Something needs to be done. In a stroke of genius, rapporteur Jan Philip Albrecht happens to be listening to the Sugar Hill Gang when he comes up with an idea to move the negotiations forward:

In what will come to be known as the “Hip-Hop, You Don’t Stop Shop,” all companies will only work with their home DPA unless a grievance is brought in another country using rhyming verse set to a phat beat. Clearly, if someone is willing to rap for their PII, the situation is suitable for escalation.

November: The annual DPAs conference, held this year in Amsterdam, grinds to a halt just minutes into the opening keynote by Assistant European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski, who apparently picked up the wrong burning cigarette from the ashtray just prior to his speech.

“Dudes,” he is heard to say, “what is privacy anyway? Have you ever wondered that? Like, isn’t there always SOMEONE watching? Is there someone watching me right now? Stop watching me!”

December: As the year comes to a close, in what seems to now be an annual occurrence, yet another colossal data breach comes to light: The Congressional email system has been hacked, releasing to the world a flood of correspondence between some of the most powerful people.

Drama builds: What secret negotiations will come to light? What horrible things are senators saying to one another behind the veil of private email messages? What passwords will be revealed to what important national security systems?

In the end, however, not much comes of it. The majority of the messages read like this one, from senator Mitch McConnell:

format_quoteDear Sally,

I hope you are well. Please come in here and teach me to use my phone. It’s beeping at me again and I can’t make it stop.


Senator Mitch McConnell

Crisis is averted.

In Conclusion: 2015 will definitely be a wild ride. Come and ride it with us. We here at the IAPP know the best ways to cut the line and how to beat the crowds.

From all of us on the Publications Team, we wish you the happiest of holidays, everything you might want under the tree and a New Year full of success and completely devoid of PII mishandling.

photo credit: svenstorm via photopin cc


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  • comment Madeline • Dec 22, 2014
  • comment Michael • Dec 22, 2014
    Love it, Sam!  Thanks for the reminder:  privacy is fun!