Jaap-Henk Hoepman, "Privacy Is Hard and Seven Other Myths: Achieving Privacy Through Careful Design" (MIT Press, 2021)

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We are tethered to our devices all day, every day, leaving data trails of our searches, posts, clicks, and communications. Meanwhile, governments and businesses collect our data and use it to monitor us without our knowledge. So we have resigned ourselves to the belief that privacy is hard--choosing to believe that websites do not share our information, for example, and declaring that we have nothing to hide anyway. In Privacy Is Hard and Seven Other Myths: Achieving Privacy Through Careful Design (MIT Press, 2021), a computer privacy and security expert argues that privacy is not that hard if we build it into the design of systems from the start.

Along the way, Jaap-Henk Hoepman debunks eight persistent myths surrounding computer privacy. The website that claims it doesn't collect personal data, for example; Hoepman explains that most data is personal, capturing location, preferences, and other information. You don't have anything to hide? There's nothing wrong with wanting to keep personal information--even if it's not incriminating or embarrassing--private. Hoepman shows that just as technology can be used to invade our privacy, it can be used to protect it, when we apply privacy by design. Hoepman suggests technical fixes, discussing pseudonyms, leaky design, encryption, metadata, and the benefits of keeping your data local (on your own device only), and outlines privacy design strategies that system designers can apply now.

Galina Limorenko is a doctoral candidate in Neuroscience with a focus on biochemistry and molecular biology of neurodegenerative diseases at EPFL in Switzerland. To discuss and propose the book for an interview you can reach her at galina.limorenko@epfl.ch.

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