Identity in the Information Society

, Volume 3, Issue 2, pp 257-265

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Built-in privacy—no panacea, but a necessary condition for effective privacy protection

  • Alexander DixAffiliated withBerlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information Email author 


Built-in privacy has for too long been neglected by regulators. They have concentrated on reacting to violations of rules. Even imposing severe fines will however not address the basic issue that preventative privacy protection is much more meaningful. The paper discusses this in the context of the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (“Berlin Group”) which has published numerous recommendations on privacy-compliant design of technical innovations. Social network services, road pricing schemes, and the distribution of digital media content have figured prominently in the group’s latest working papers. More recently, a judgment of the European Court of Human Rights has thrown light on weaknesses in the protection of patients’ data in hospitals that requires urgent action by designers of IT systems. Built-in privacy is no magic button, no panacea, but it has turned out to be a necessary condition for meaningful privacy protection.


Social networks Road pricing Locational privacy Distribution of digital media content Hospital IT systems Web-based telemedicine Electronic health records International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications "Berlin Group"