What is private, what is public? How can we protect our privacy? Why do we need to protect privacy at all? In an age of digitised data, these questions are of greater social and political importance than ever.

Today, many areas of our lives are digitised. The amount of data we generate has increased enormously and our every step can be tracked by the internet, our smartphone or other mobile devices. The growing number of ways in which data can be stored and analysed is threatening our privacy.

In a number of projects, the ITA examines these concerns, looks at the ways we can be exploited and recommends courses of action.

The meaning of safety in the new millennium

The terror attacks in New York, Madrid and London significantly changed what we understand by safety and what it means to us. One of the consequences of this profound shift of our priorities was a significant increase in the speed at which biometric technologies spread. At the same time, the already slow spread of technologies that protect our privacy could be hindered even more, if not even prevented, by the current social climate.

All of these factors are making ITA’s focus on privacy even more important. However, we can expect little political support on the subject. This also means that even if society's interest in this issue increases, there may be little public money for research. It might be impossible to conduct a useful discussion about whether the private and public sectors are interfering more and more in our privacy, because public authorities are also trying to get access to private data.

To look on the bright side, there are signs that the debate about public safety triggered by the terrorist attacks at the beginning of the new millennium is subsiding. We are once again starting to question whether everything can be justified by the abstract idea of security. This is why developing new technologies to protect us but that do not expose the data collected on us to abuse, is an important, if still very underdeveloped field of research.

Scanner and cameras are supposed to increase public safety