The 6th International Workshop on

Privacy and Anonymity in the Information Society (PAIS)

March 22, 2013, Genoa (Italy)

Collocated with EDBT/ICDT 2013


Privacy Challenges Facing Future and Emerging Technologies
Panel Chair: Dr. Tal Soffer, Coordinator of the PRACTIS project Senior researcher, ICTAF, Tel Aviv University

Will future technologies to "read" ones thoughts or to become "invisible"? Will nanotechnology-enabled sensors or new brain imaging techniques make us molecularly or mentally "naked"? Will all these lead to the death of privacy as we know it, as some researchers envision? These questions were in the core of the project PRACTIS, co-funded by the EU FP7 Science in Society programme.

The impact of technology on privacy is not a new phenomenon, as can be exemplified by the invention of photography in the 19th century, which triggered the first technology-driven legal debates on "the right to privacy". Recent concerns stemming from the widespread use of Internet-based and cellular (smartphone) services strongly support the case of privacy-technology interaction. Future technologies are bound to pose new privacy-related challenges.

There are three main types of potential impacts of new technologies on privacy: new threats to privacy, enhancement of privacy (enabling new privacy-enhancing technologies), and changing our perceptions of privacy. Certain emerging technologies have both a potential to pose new threats as well as to enhance protection (sometimes indirectly), depending on the specific application. The third kind of impact, namely the change of perception, is the most complex. The most common perception change relates to individuals "getting used" to a certain technology (hence becoming less sensitive to its privacy aspects) and the readiness of users to "sacrifice" some of their privacy for concrete benefits (e.g improved security or better health services).

Despite the current attention focused on ICT (Internet, smarthphones), it is interesting to look forward "beyond ICT", into important fields like nanoscience or medical research. Future challenges to privacy stemming from these fields could be far beyond the "classical" issues of personal data protection.

The aim of the proposed panel is to discuss the privacy aspects (sometimes unexpected and surprising) of new technologies emerging from fields such as ICT, Nanotechnology, Robotics, New Materials or Cognition. Research in these fields leads to unprecedented capabilities like Synthetic Telepathy, molecular sensing, portable full genome sequencing and "intelligent" humanoid robots interacting with people.

The PRACTIS project presents novel results on the potential impacts of various emerging technologies on privacy threats, enhancement and changing perceptions. Scenarios that reflect these evolving changes have been constructed. Changes of attitudes towards privacy among the "Web Generation" were explored by confronting high school students in several countries with different potential situations enabled by emerging technologies in their everyday lives.

Revisiting ethical and legal principles for a technologically evolving society, and suggesting guidelines promoting the value-sensitive design of potentially privacy-affecting technologies are some of the project.s results. These results deal with intriguing questions such as:

Is the privacy perception changing?

What will be the future of privacy: is privacy fading away?

What will be the related technological, ethical, social and legal challenges? What are the implications on future policy and regulations?


1. The PRACTIS project. Dr. Tal Soffer (5 min)
2. Impact of emerging technologies on privacy. Dr. Aharon Hauptman (10 min)
3. Changing privacy perception. Mr. Nicolas Bach, Dr. Tal Soffer (10 min)
4. Ethical/Social considerations. Prof. Claire Lobet (10 min)
5. Future privacy scenarios. Dr. Burkhard Auffermann (10 min)
5a. Panel discussion on scenarios. Moderated by Dr. Burkhard Auffermann (15 min)
6. Future legal aspects of privacy. Prof. Michael Birnhack (10 min)
6a. Panel discussion on policy implications and final remarks. moderated by Prof. Niv Ahituv (20 min)

Topics to be discussed (provocative questions)
1. Isn't all of this too late, and the death of privacy is an unchangeable reality?
2. The "right to be forgotten" and "privacy by design" are only trendy buzz-words, and unworkable. Is it so?
3. Empowering the data subject sounds the right thing, but is it possible in a world where no one reads privacy policies anyway?
4. As for "privacy divides" - this might be unpleasant, but isn't this the result of a capitalistic market?
5. What could be the most surprising scenario of privacy in 2050? (one that sounds highly unlikely today, but is plausible and may have high impact on society)

Panelist Bios

Tal Soffer, PhD. Senior researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel-Aviv University since 1990. She has Ph.D. in Education from Tel Aviv University and an M.A. in Labour relations. She is an expert in Education and Labour relations and specializes in analyzing the impact of emerging and future technologies on society. Her interests include: trends in the future labour market. She also specializes in diffusion of innovation in the educational field, e.g. e-learning. She is a consultant to policymakers in the Israeli Ministries of Education and Labour, as well as to other ICTAF clients, such as the EU. She has performed many research and consulting projects for ICTAF in the past including technology assessment and the impact on society, forecasting of the manpower needs in the education field; Forecasting of the future occupations needs in the Israeli labour market for pupils from Low Socio-Economic status groups. In recent years she has been involved in several EU projects such as: OPET, e-Living, NBIC, SSH-FUTURES and she coordinated the EU FP6 ELOST project and coordinate the EU FP7 PRACTIS project.

Aharon Hauptman, PhD. Senior researcher at the Interdisciplinary Center for Technology Analysis and Forecasting (ICTAF) at Tel-Aviv University since 1988. He studied Mechanical Engineering at the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology) and received M.Sc and Ph.D degrees in the field of Fluid Mechanics from the faculty of Engineering at Tel-Aviv University (1986). He is specializes in Technology Assessment and Foresight and in the evaluation of trends in emerging and future technologies and their various impacts. He has been involved in Foresight studies as a basis for long-term policy in several projects carried out for the European Union. Some examples: A study on future developments in Nanobiotechnology (for the EU network of excellence "Nano-to-Life"), technology trends related to e-Government (project ELOST), the threats posed by the "dark side" of emerging technologies (project FESTOS), and "wild cards" related to future research and innovation in Europe (project iKNOW). In the project PRACTIS he led the tasks of horizon scanning and the assessment of the impact of new technologies on privacy.

Niv Ahituv, Prof. President of Dan Academic Center. He was the founder (2003) and the Academic Director of the Institute of Internet Studies and the Marko and Lucie Chaoul Chair for Research in Information Evaluation at Tel Aviv University. From 1989 to 1994 he served as the Dean of Graduate School of Business Administration, and from 1999 to 2002 he served as Vice President and Director General (CEO) of Tel Aviv University. In 2005 he was awarded a Life Time Achievement Award by The Israeli Association for Information Technology. He represented the Israeli Government in UNESCO in issues related to Information Technology from 1997 to 2011. His main areas of interest are: information economics, IT strategy and management, social and business implications of the Internet. On the latter issue he published a book (in Hebrew) in 2001 entitled "A World without Secrets: on the Open Information Society". He holds degrees of B.Sc. in Mathematics, MBA, M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Information Systems Management.

Bukhard Aufferman, PhD. Senior Research Fellow at Finland Futures Research Centre (FFRC), University of Turku. He holds a PhD from Freie Universitat Berlin (1994). He was Professor for International Relations at the Universities of Tampere and Helsinki and Jean-Monnet Chair for European Integration and Research Fellow in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Helsinki. Auffermann has published in various refereed international publications. In recent years he has been working on the FP7 projects FESTOS and PRACTIS as the responsible researcher within FFRC. In the FESTOS project he was responsible for the threat assessment of emerging and new technologies and for the final policy report. Within PRACTIS he leads the work package on "Future Scenarios of Privacy". He is currently occupied in research projects for the Academy of Finland.

Claire Lobet-Maris, Prof. She has Master in Sociology and PhD in Sciences du Travail (Catholic University of Louvain). She is senior professor at the Computer Science faculty at University of Namur teaching sociology, organizational sciences and technological policy in bachelor and Master programmes of the Faculty of Computer Sciences and of the Faculty of Law. She has been past Dean of the Faculty from 1999 to 2002. She is director of the Interdisciplinary Research Centre (CITA) focalized on scientific issues regarding interactions between ICTs and Society (Cellule Interdisciplinaire de Technology Assessment). The main research interests of CITA are: sociological and constructive analysis of ICT uses, organisational analysis of ICTs projects, ICT policies analysis and ethics of computing.

Nicolas Bach. He is a research assistant at the nexus Institute in Berlin. He studied philosophy and Eastern European Studies at the Free University in Berlin. He specialised on political, societal and economical transformation processes. His main fields of research are the analysis of political and societal development processes, civil society, and participatory democracy. Within the PRACTIS project he was responsible for the preparation and accomplishment of WP3. Privacy perceptions, and especially the conduction and analysis of a school survey with over 1000 participants in 6 countries.

Michael Birnhack, Prof. He is a member of the Faculty of Law at Tel Aviv University. He teaches, lectures and writes about informational privacy. Birnhack was a sub-contractor for the European Commission in its evaluation of Israel's data protection regime ("adequacy"), a member of an expert committee that examined Israeli data protection law, and the chair of the legal committee of the Public Council for the Protection of Privacy. His book, Private Space (in Hebrew), won the first prize of the Israeli Political Scientist Association (2010). His privacy related research covers also the exposure of underlying technological assumptions of the law, the power of the EU Directive, and the study of particular technologies, such as body scanners.