Is Privacy Dead? Not According to Speakers at RSA 2016

While many of us have given up on the idea that we still have any real privacy, a quick look at the RSA 2016 Conference agenda might give you some hope.


8 March 2016

Data Privacy RSA 2016

While many of us (especially in the U.S.) have given up on the idea that we still have any real privacy given all of the available technologies businesses, government and hackers have at their fingertips, a quick look at the agenda for the RSA 2016 Conference in San Francisco last week might give you some hope. There are a number of technology and security experts educating the world on privacy challenges and fighting for the right to keep our data protected.

For example, Brad Smith, president and chief legal officer at Microsoft gave a persuasive keynote titled “Trust in the Cloud in Tumultuous Times,” discussing the balance between security and privacy. He discussed the lack of trust consumers have for both businesses and the government, and the responsibility both have to earn back trust. This starts with being transparent and protecting the right to privacy. In his presentation he highly defended encryption saying “Whatever the intention, one thing is clear: the path to hell starts at the back door. We need to make sure encryption technology remains strong.” He also noted that “we’ve realized that we can’t keep people secure in the real world if we can’t keep them secure on the internet.”

Privacy executives from Adobe, Google and Microsoft joined forces for a panel dedicated to hot topics in privacy. This panel discussed how privacy is still misunderstood or undefined within many organizations. While security and privacy overlap in some areas, security does not fully encompass privacy. New EU data regulations are forcing organizations to think differently about privacy and driving change within organizations. "The dust is not going to settle for a few years," said MeMe Rasmussen, VP and chief privacy officer of Adobe Systems.

As part of a session titled “Privacy and Security: Working Better Together,” Vice President, Chief Privacy & Security Counsel at Intel Corp. Ruby Zefo made the case for why privacy isn’t a zombie. She said "I have curtains on my home windows, just like I have curtains on my digital windows." This is an important analogy for us all to keep in mind — we do still have some level of privacy. When we are inside our homes, we expect the things we do to stay private.

We should not be expected to walk out our doors or go online and completely give up our expectation of privacy. Hope is not lost — technology is evolving to better protect our personal information and hold businesses accountable for how they handle our data. The U.S. may be the least trusted nation for data privacy right now, but the future is bright.



Mikala Vidal

Mikala Vidal

Mikala Vidal is the director of communications for the Americas at Intralinks. She is responsible for driving PR strategy in the collaboration and security industries. Mikala has more than a decade of PR and marketing experience, and has built her career helping B2B technology companies generate awareness and build industry credibility. Previously she has helped companies like WatchDox, Exabeam, Convertro, Waterfall Security, Boxever, Insightly, EchoSign, and cybersecurity investor and entrepreneur Shlomo Kramer get noticed and gain market traction. She holds a B.A.