Innovative new applications, rapidly increasing computing power, and faster communication between computers, devices and sensors are having the effect of quickly eroding individual privacy. People have increasingly lost their ability to determine and regulate their own individual zone of personal privacy. While most people expect to maintain control over what personal information about them becomes public, that ability is being lost to technological “advance”.
The implications of this fact are profound for liability insurers. As the electronic and digital world becomes more ambient, individuals lose their ability to manage and control the information about themselves that is available to others. Unchecked, technological advance will render private personal information a thing of the past. At the same time this advance is occurring, however, law and regulation are starting to move to exert control over the manner in which collected information may be used and to limit technology’s most intrusive effects. These emerging issues go beyond privacy loss as the result of malicious or accidental data breach, and into the legality and ethics of what are, increasingly, everyday business practices. The conflict emerging between new interconnected technology and legal restrictions will almost certainly result in litigation involving policyholders. This will, in turn, lead to coverage litigation involving insurers.
This paper assesses how new, interconnected technology comes into conflict with established and emerging privacy rights, then addresses how that conflict is likely to impact liability insurers.