Reputation and privacy are at the heart of any conversation
about what it means to live in a connected, digital
The codes and regulations that govern our reputation and privacy
are currently being debated the world over.
In Europe we have the advent of the new General Data Protection
Regulation at supra national level, whilst at a national level in
England and Wales our privacy laws are being debated in the context
of press intrusion, the implications of which span from the UK to
the United States.
Although there are some big questions at play, one thing seems
clear: the fundamental rights to reputation and privacy are more
important now than they have ever been.
Technology is one of the fundamental drivers. The rate at which
humankind is producing information is exponential. In the
connected, digital world this information is indexed and stored by
search engines so that we can find it online.
That means it is easier to gather information about your next
holiday destination, but in a commercial context it has other
implications. If you want to conduct an investigation, background
check or due diligence on a company or individual, the nexus of
information now available from your desktop is staggering, assuming
you know where and how to look for it.
Some information is obtainable from legitimate sources such as
court records, property registries and company databases. Some is
obtainable from leaked or hacked information and resides in the
darker recesses of the Internet.
This information paradigm has huge reputation and privacy
implications. We all share our data with third parties and we trust
them to look after that data. The reality though is that a shadow
market operates in the online world.
As soon as a new social media tool is launched there will be a
host of shadow tools designed to expose the privacy loopholes in
the these social media sites.
The question is, do you really know what your digital footprint
is? Not to the casual Googler, but to the sophisticated operator of
the deep and dark web. How do you know if the information that
banks access about you is correct? How do you assert a right of
reply in this situation? How can you protect yourself and your
business from cyber criminals or those that want to damage your
From a commercial point of view there are huge opportunities in
the current environment, but also risks. If you are a successful
business owner, you know that there is a big political move towards
transparency. Legitimate transparency is essential to the healthy
functioning of markets and societies. But for every legitimate
proponent of transparency, there is a hacker out there that seeks a
different kind of transparency.
We are now living in what has been referred to as the
'reputation economy'. At Schillings our job is to help
ensure the safe and fair operation of that economy.
This article was first published in the Business Debate on
the Wall Street Journal in June 2016. Click here to read the original
article and to watch a filmed interview with David
The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.
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