Sharing information is ‘difficult to balance’

Technology poses challenges as governments share information in attempts to counter terrorism funding but this could violate an individual’s right to privacy, said experts at the first Knowledge conference held in Dubai.

DUBAI // Technology poses challenges as governments share information in attempts to counter terrorism funding but this could violate an individual’s right to privacy, said experts at the first Knowledge conference held in Dubai.

“Financial institutions, lawyers and accountants, anybody in a position to look after people’s money is in a position of having to report any suspicious transaction to so-called competent authorities,” said Dr Chizu Nakajima, director of the International Centre for Integrity and Governance at the London Guildhall Faculty of Business and Law.

“Those competent authorities are under obligation to then share information among themselves so there is a freedom of movement of information, but perhaps one could argue to the detriment of an individual’s right to privacy.

“So there are difficulties we have as a result of wanting to do something positive to eradicate the negatives in the global community we live in. In terms of information sharing how do we weigh the individual’s rights versus what is seen as the common or the greater good?”

Dr Nakajima spoke of the difficulty of balancing transparency and confidentiality when dealing with authorities sharing information about organised crime, anti-money laundering operations or countering terrorist financing.

“I think there is great fear in the amount of information that is actually now being shared,” said Dr Nakajima, a professor of corporate law and governance with experience advising inter-government and government organisations on legal issues.

While shared data can fight crime, there have been reports that financial institutions are having to submit information based only on suspicion of authorities, she said.

“We are fully aware of crimes of global scale and we all want to to fight it,” she said.

“It’s a real difficult balancing act that we are all trying to play ... It may be different in each country and depending on whose perspective you’re looking at it. So it could be seen as a severe violation of human rights on one hand or you may think, ‘Gosh you’re harbouring all these criminals or potential criminals’. There is a degree of balance we have to strike.”

rtalwar@thenational.ae

Published: December 7, 2014 04:00 AM

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