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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 6. Access Controls

Overview

Access controls are a crucial layer of data management and security. By “access controls,” we mean any electronic mechanisms designed to limit the availability of data to users within an application. (Electronic mechanisms that limit access to the application itself, such as a login and password, would fall under information security, discussed in Chapter 4.)

Of all the capabilities discussed in this book, access controls may be the most malleable in terms of supporting diverse privacy requirements. Numerous aspects of an enterprise’s privacy policy will rely on access controls as a means of ensuring proportionality in data access, controlling data usage, and enhancing security beyond the broad system-access level. Access controls are quite versatile—there are ways to control access to the information itself (access control models), and ways to control what you can do to the information once you have access to it (access types). Access controls can even be used to limit the knowledge of the data’s existence—separate from the contents of the data. This hiding of the existence of a record can be an important part of safeguarding privacy.

The more precisely access controls can be defined and the more flexibly they can be applied, the more policy options that become available to those trying to create a robust privacy-protective regime around the use of the technology. Such flexibility reduces friction with the technology and supports creative ...

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