We have moved on to an important stage in the evolution of the internet characterized by an increasing demand from all sectors of society to regain control. This stage is comprised by legal/interstate responses to the challenges to privacy, technical community responses and civil society sentiments and actions.
Here’s a non-exhaustive and simplified outline of the most significant different sector responses right now (from a Eurocentric point of view):
My recent talk on “Privacy in the Age of Big Data” at the Insafe seminar in Bratislava included among others this outline:
LEGAL INTERSTATE RESPONSES (Europe)
- Fines to companies based on breach of privacy in Europe (processing a disproportionate amount of data, holding it for an undetermined period of time, failure to be clear about how data was used)
- ECHR case law interpretations (recognition of potential of new tech for increased state surveillance, which require even greater safeguards to guarantee against risks of abuse)
- Reform of the Data Protection Directive 1995
- A revision of the US-EU Safe Harbour agreement (or even ”scrapping it”, Viviane Reding following Snowden revelations)
- UN (La Rue ”surveillance” report, April 2013 and the ”right to privacy in the digital age resolution” Nov. 2013, ”Privacy in the digital age” Report, due sept. 2015)
- Building a European Internet (European internet services that are ”walled off” from the US , Angela Merkel, feb. 2014)
TWO DIFFERENT TYPES OF INDUSTRY/TECHNICAL COMMMUNITY REPONSES
1. “We need to rebuild trust”
The internet as it is holds a great potential, but trust was shaken last year. We need to rebuild trust by a) legal reform b) transparency. The key response here is requests from social media giants to governments for legal reform and that they are allowed to publish data about government requests for their user’s data. (The so called “transparency reports”)
2. “Why should we trust an internet that is broken?”
a) The internet is broken. The original protocols of the internet were only built to support a very small network of academics and government users who trusted each other. The development of the internet into the World Wide Web with billions of users and services, has exceeded the capabilities of the internet. Security and data protection were later patchworks.
b) The main business models of the internet are “broken”. They are based on monopoly and personal data as capital and are controversial to the original idea about a free internet
The result is a rise in:
CIVIL SOCIETY RESPONSES
- Change in user patterns – Proliferation of use of privacy and anonymity tools. 415 million people are e.g. using tools to disguise their identity online (the global web index). “Privacy is the next green movement”
- Activism. A rise in digital rights campaigns, organizations and activists.