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The Architecture of Privacy by Elissa Lerner, Daniel Slate, John K Grant, Ari Gesher, Courtney Bowman

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Chapter 5. Security Architecture

Overview

Privacy and the potential violations thereof are intrinsic to our everyday notions of trust. When customers and citizens entrust private companies, NGOs, and government agencies with sensitive data, they would like to be assured that those organizations can and will handle it responsibly. In turn, organizations that serve as stewards of sensitive data must trust in their own people accordingly, often in new and uncharted ways. But sometimes people are untrustworthy—occasionally because of malicious intent, but more often because of honest mistakes and accidental errors. It’s therefore imperative to become familiar with various ways to design technical methods that minimize the risk of having a class of users who must be trusted—of their own volition—to behave within a set of rules in order to safeguard privacy. A thorough security architecture will help you avoid creating a single point of trust in your systems.

Separating Roles, Separating Powers

Privacy controls serve to limit the behavior of users inside the system. However, to protect data from access occurring beyond the confines of the privacy-protected application (but rather at some lower system level), it’s important to strictly separate the roles of individuals interacting with the system.1 It’s then possible to establish a clear separation of powers between these different roles.

Generally, an effective privacy-protection regime should account for the following five roles: ...

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