Schillings launches documentary about online privacy

Renowned for its precedent setting work in the area of privacy, Schillings has today launched a documentary about Big Technology, online privacy, and its impact on society. The 40-minute documentary, titled Accept All: Unacceptable, is now available to view on YouTube here.

The documentary, commissioned and funded by Schillings, and made with support of think tank Demos and consumer rights organisation Rightly, is the centrepiece of a wider piece of work by Schillings to highlight and address the issue of protecting personal data online.

The campaign – and the documentary at the heart of it – sets out to answer the question: “Why should we care about online privacy?”. The documentary follows the journey of four volunteers as they discover how far information about them has travelled online, and how it has morphed along the way. 

Alongside this experiment are interviews with experts in this field – including Damian Collins MP, Baroness Beeban Kidron, John Bruce (CEO of Inrupt, Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s latest venture), former GCHQ Director Robert Hannigan – as well as experts in psychology, technology and regulation, victims of cybercrime, and vox pops with adults and children about attitudes to privacy online.

Partner Allan Dunlavy, who leads the firm’s digital security and reputation work, and is spearheading the campaign, explained the idea:

“We wanted to create something that really brings to light the human impact of the challenges society faces with online privacy. It’s a topic that, to be frank, can be a little dry and hard to engage with – and that’s half the problem; consumers are not aware of just how many liberties are being taken with our personal information, and how this manifests as problems for all of society. Accept All: Unacceptable? explains what we all need to know and why – it will make you laugh, think and even shed a tear at points”.

David Imison, CEO, explained why Schillings is focusing on this area:

“Since 1984, Schillings has worked hard to defend individuals’ right to privacy – something that’s enshrined in law in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We made a name for ourselves tackling press intrusion for those in the public eye – and using the law to set precedents that protect people better in future. Over the years this has naturally evolved into tackling privacy online”

“The majority of cases we take on today have an online element – and almost always this is due to data that’s available online and abused. The results of this range from online impersonation or difficulties caused by inaccurate information, to – at the other extreme – virtual kidnap or blackmail. We strongly believe more needs to be done to protect individual’s information online”.

Following on from the documentary, and as part of the wider campaign, Schillings is now embarking on a series of roundtable discussions with the experts involved in the documentary, as well as academics, journalists, policy makers and tech companies, to bring together ideas and find areas to make meaningful change in the areas of online privacy and ‘Big Tech’ regulation.

On the roundtables, Allan Dunlavy commented:

“It’s become very clear through the process of making the film that much more education is needed on the topic of online privacy – but also that there’s a real opportunity for brands and companies to differentiate themselves by thinking of privacy as a selling point, not a tick-box exercise. We’re bringing together some great minds to seek meaningful solutions for this”.

The outcome of these roundtables will be revealed in early 2023.

In the meantime, Schillings has created a content hub where helpful articles, how-to guides and interviews with experts will be posted on an ongoing basis. The firm will also be releasing a white paper in January, written in conjunction with Demos, to examine more fully the documentary research findings.