Privacy is a fundamental right whose scope, content, meanings and instruments of protection are much discussed and uncertain. PRACTIS prospectively examines how perceptions and protections, as well as meanings and scopes of privacy might evolve in the future.
The objectives of this project are to identify how emerging technologies and their convergence might impact on the fundamental individual and structural values in which the European legal right to privacy is rooted, as well as on societal perceptions and conceptions of privacy. The project inquires into how legal systems could be better prepared to address these new challenges. This task is especially complex given that the deployment of new technologies may by itself induce shifts in perceptions about privacy, such that what we experience as invasions of our privacy today may no longer be experienced that way in the future, or, conversely, what we do not experience as privacy threats today may come to be seen as more privacy threatening as technological observation and surveillance technologies become more pervasive, efficient, invisible, interoperable and multimodal. In particular, a possible generation gap between adults and younger people, who have grown up immersed in ICT, will be explored.
Therefore, the vision that motivates PRACTIS is the vision of a society that is fully aware of the evolving challenges to privacy posed by emerging technologies and which is equipped to respond to them. PRACTIS will assess the potential impacts of emerging and future technologies on privacy and privacy perceptions. It will propose ethical and legal frameworks for coping with potential risks to privacy. It will explore novel policy options for addressing individuals’ and social structural needs in terms of future privacy protection, taking into account the idea that privacy is not a purely individualistic value but also has a social structural value (if only because it protects people’s "right to be different" without undergoing stigmatization or discrimination, and because such diversity is crucial to democratic vitality). Revisiting ethical and legal regimes and principles for a technologically evolving society, and suggesting guidelines promoting the value-sensitive design of potentially privacy-affecting technologies are at the core of the project’s ambitions.
PRACTIS will add to today’s vibrant public and research discourse about privacy, but in a unique and original way. Based on the assumption that our current perceptions of privacy are related to the current of technological developments, PRACTIS will examine the potential impact on privacy of technologies that will emerge in the future.