Digital Natives and the Metamorphosis of the European Information Society. The Emerging Behavioral Trends Regarding Privacy and Their Legal Implications
European society is going through a process of metamorphosis as digital natives are becoming of age. This new generation of individuals, who have grown up immersed in information and communication technologies, reveal interesting behavioural patterns regarding the disclosure of personal information, profiling and protection of personal data. How do these emerging attitudes, expectations and behaviours shape society and how does the current set of normative rules enshrined in the existing European legal framework of data protection influence them? The objective of this article is to analyse how observed behavioural trends of digital natives regarding the protection of personal data should be taken into account in future revisions of the legal regulatory framework.
The research on digital natives is based on Eurobarometer 359, “The State of Electronic Identity and Data Protection in Europe” (published in June 2011), which constitutes the largest survey ever on citizens’ behaviours and attitudes concerning identity management, data protection and privacy.
Taking into account the behaviours of digital natives vis-à-vis the disclosure of personal data, the article argues that European data protection law is running the risk of falling into a legally paternalistic temptation, rigidly protecting citizens from the consequences of their actions and losing touch with the reality of data subjects’ expectations and behaviours. As a consequence, the paper argues that future revisions of the legal framework could take into account the image of the emerging digital natives, recommending the introduction of a higher degree of flexibility in the application of its rules while keeping its core values intact
KeywordsPersonal Data Data Protection Social Networking Site Privacy Risk Digital Native
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