Blog (updated 15 June 2016): There’s a battle of words going on, the battle is about the definition of “privacy”, and it’s been going on for centuries. Somehow we’ve led ourselves to believe that the definition of privacy that we all think we share is something intrinsically connected to the individual. But actually it’s not. Although privacy as such is in fact only something the individual can claim (corporations and states cannot), the individual has always been very absent in the very construction of the concept.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
This January the European Data Protection Supervisor presented his new “Ethics Advisory Group”. A group of experts that will help him “reconsider the ethical dimension of the relationships between human rights, technology, markets and business models and their implications for the rights to privacy and data protection in the digital environment.” He is not the first European decision maker or thought leader to bring forward ethics as a guiding principle in the digital age. Over the last year digital ethics, and in particular data ethics, have become the “talk of the town” in Europe. Based on the realisation that laws have not followed pace with the development of digital technologies, technologists, academics, policymakers and businesses are today revisiting cultural values and moral systems when groping for a new ethical framework for the digital age.
A new 2016 report from the Danish Consumers’ Council “Digital Challenges for Consumers in Denmark” by Gry Hasselbalch maps key challenges for Danish consumers in the digital era. A rapid digital adoption in Denmark has created a number of challenges for Danish consumers. In particular automatic data collection and correlation performed by both public and private actors challenge consumer privacy. Laws, consumers’ skill, as well as public institution’s and private businesses’ conduct, have not progressed in a way that adequately protects and empowers consumers’ in a digital market and public sphere. The report also points to solutions. There is a need for an updated regulatory data protection framework, a development of consumer skills that provide consumers’ with background knowledge of the life of and interests in their data and the advancement of privacy by design solutions in public and private business.
– by Gry Hasselbalch, May 14 2015
Our destiny is a product. Fate is developed upon and innovated with. Fate is part of an actual machinery. It can be sold and traded with. Fate is something the Destiny Machine produces.
BLOG: Surveillance is the default. We need a change of direction. But waking up society can be a challenge. Did we hit the trucks yet?
It’s a Steve Martin and John Candy farce. Passenger: “He says we are going in the wrong direction”. Driver shrugs: “ah he’s drunk. How would he know where we are going? He he… what a moron!”
BLOG: If you still didn’t read Maciej Cegłowski’s talk from May 2014 on the evolution of the surveillance pr default business model of the internet, please do so now. It cuts straight through the narratives of industry, government and other interest groups in the surveillance- privacy – internet debates of today and exposes them for what they are: specific views with specific interests heavily embedded in very specific power structures. Enjoy!
“My point again: it’s silly to pretend that keeping mass surveillance in private hands would protect us from abuses by government. The only way to keep user information safe is not to store it.” – Maciej Cegłowski
BLOG: “It’s like preaching to the converted” one participant tells me when I arrive one day into the CPDP 2015 conference. And so it is. The meta narrative of the conference is so univocally clear and concurred that the Twitter feed #CPDP2015 is almost at a stand still. Expect from occasional ill received peeps from US representatives about compliance with EU data protection standards and so on and so forth, privacy is generally viewed as a business opportunity, an EU competitive differentiator and a legal right (yes, one still need to emphasise that).
AWARENESS RAISING: Lovisa Inserra from our Global Privacy as Innovation Network has made some great interviews for the network at the Internet Days in Sweden November 2014. Here’s one of my favourites with Annie Machon: http://vimeo.com/112891036 We want to continue talking with experts, advocates, academics, activists etc. about privacy and innovation in the digital age. Keep an eye for future interviews by Lovisa on the networks site
TALKS & EVENTS: Key experts from an interdiciplinary field met in Copenhagen in November 2014 to discuss privacy as innovation.
AWARENESS RAISING: “Henrik Kramshøj is a Whitehat-hacker with his own company, Gry Hasselbalch is active in Privacy and has previously worked for the Danish Media Council for Children and Young People and Alexander Mills is a High School student with a particular interest in safety in cyberspace. I november Aflyttets host Anders Kjærulff invited them to talk about safety and privacy in two programmes…”. The Danish radio programme Aflyttet “Surveilled” brought these two programmes to guide and provide listeners with tools to safeguard their privacy in 2014. Listen to them here (in Danish).
In 1992 the public gained access to the former Eastern Germany secret service Stasi archives. They consisted of 180 kilometers files and 35 million other documents, photos , audio, documents and taped phone conversations. The archives are evidence of a gigantic effort. Physical penetration into people’s homes, hours of interception and handling of information. Stasi was established in 1950. This was also the year the European Convention on Human Rights was defined (signed in 1953 ) . Two years before in 1948, the UN Declaration on Human Rights was signed. Both had and still have an article on the right to privacy.
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.
“Tillid” har været år 2013’s buzz-word. Alle taler om ”tilliden til internettet”, som noget, der skal genskabes og genopbygges. Og den ”mistillid”, der er fulgt efter sidste års afsløringer om masseovervågning, præsenteres som et kerneproblem. Men måske vi skulle vente lidt med at genskabe tilliden til internettet.
This post is in Danish, because it was written for the Danish version of the Day we Fight Back campaign 11 February 2014. Read the English translation here.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
“Trust ” was the word of the year. Everyone talks about “trust in the Internet ” as something that needs to be restored and rebuilt. And the mistrust in the internet that followed last year’s revelations about mass surveillance is presented as a core problem. But perhaps we shouldn’t aim to reestablish trust in an internet that is fundamentally broken, before we have actually fixed it.
– by Gry Hasselbalch
If you mentioned privacy and data protection in a discussion about digital media business innovation, data portability and social sharing a few years ago, you would most certainly have been viewed as a spoilsport. But do the same today and you might actually assert yourself as a great innovator.
With one eye on current global debates concerning state surveillance and specifically the NSA Prism scheme, my other eye squint with concern. The arguments put forward supporting schemes such as Prism emphasize the “safe guards” claimed to have been put in place by governments (they do not mention the “transparency” of such schemes, which is a key element of the legal test). Also civil society privacy advocates seem to be mostly concerned with these safeguards, whether they are in place, how they are implemented etc. I’m squinting, because I worry that we get caught up in these arguments, intertwined in their legal particularities, the tests, their specific implementations. Are we not missing the grand picture here?
No hardcore privacy advocate could possibly have been surprised by the recent revelations that we can have absolutely no expectation of privacy in our communicative endeavours today. But the fact that the rest of the world actually seemed to have been taken by surprise (or at least acted like that) and was alarmed by this, might create a momentum for a change of perspective within the social media industry. Perhaps privacy will finally be perceived as a profitable business.