The Sky is Not Falling: Understanding the Privacy Panic Cycle

September 10, 2015

While most people are conditioned to see through the marketing hype surrounding “revolutionary!” and “game-changing!” new technologies, few have the same healthy skepticism when it comes to outsized claims about allegedly dire privacy risks that now routinely accompany many of the very same innovations. Taken at face value, these supposed privacy risks suggest that government should intervene to protect society. A closer look, however, reveals that privacy concerns are often misplaced or unnecessary, and they rapidly dissipate as people come to better understand and appreciate the products and services in question.

At this event, ITIF will release a new report examining this recurring “privacy panic cycle”—a common trajectory of overwrought privacy claims and hysterical fears that often follow the introduction of a new technology, only to dissipate as cooler heads prevail. By looking at both historical and current technologies, the report analyzes the cause of the privacy panic cycle and the factors that have amplified it in recent years.

Following a presentation on the report, panelists will discuss how policymakers can look beyond the cycle of fear and put in place policies that create consumer protections while also supporting the adoption and deployment of technologies.