Data is the gold of the 21st century. Therefore – hands off our data!
On September 23, Jan Philipp Albrecht, author and Member of the European Parliament for the Greens, presented his book “Hands off our data!” at the Fabasoft TechSalon in Vienna.
The German Member of the European Parliament for the Greens, Jan Philipp Albrecht, has written a book about his experiences as the European Parliament’s rapporteur for the new General Data Protection Regulation. “The more I delve into the various elements of technical data protection, the more I see how important it is to tell the people in Europe that without proper protective measures, they are highly exposed to a loss of control over their own lives in our interconnected, digital world”. With these words, Albrecht brought his large audience of representatives from IT economy, politics, science and administration to full alert right at the beginning of the Fabasoft TechSalon.
According to Albrecht, people have to realise that their personal data is read, stored, analysed and aggregated into profiles millions of times on the Internet. Criminals engage in identity theft on a grand scale, and businesses as well as government agencies have long since turned access on personal data into a highly lucrative business model.
In the end, data protection is more than just the right to informational self-determination, says Albrecht, who during the past term was the youngest German Member of the European Parliament. Shortcomings in data protection also put fundamental rights such as non-discrimination, equality or the freedom of expression and demonstration at stake.
Albrecht is convinced that “for this reason, we now need a political strategy allowing the population to take a decision on the future data protection.” We need a framework of rules for a standardised European data protection to confront global corporations and shady data collectors who use complex algorithms to find out almost everything about us, and who then use this knowledge commercially. Albrecht regards the fight for a standardised and far-reaching European data protection more or less as ‘the final battle for our freedom".
Every single person as well as society as a whole needs instruments in the form of data protection rights to stand up against the arbitrariness of data collectors and put an end to the loss of control over their data.
“We all need more attention and sensitivity towards online services and apps. We therefore have to implement clear rules protecting consumers in a way that certain data may only be requested and stored upon the user’s approval or on the basis of legal requirements. Users of services must be informed clearly and unambiguously what type of data the provider needs and for what purpose the data is used. Pages of online terms and conditions written in legal jargon are not helpful in this respect.
Far-reaching data protection regulation to be implemented in 2015
“We, the public, now have to demand from our politicians that the final step towards the achievement of a European data protection - the approval by the EU Council - be taken.” Towards the end of his book presentation, Jan Philipp Albrecht showed optimism that the ambitious target of achieving up-to-date data protection throughout Europe might succeed by 2015. In Germany and the United Kingdom, however, the respective governments still bear reservations towards the new data protection regulation that need to be overcome.
Albrecht compared the significance of this unique opportunity to the introduction of the single currency Euro or the implementation of the Schengen area. In the United States, Albrecht also met with a strong need for data protection among the American population. Large Internet companies in Silicon Valley have so far been able to act in a non-regulated environment, while the military-industrial field has enforced its claims on global data access by way of special laws such as the Patriot Act or the FISA Act against their own IT giants.
Tough penalties to prevent data misuse
The new European General Data Protection Regulation will definitively prevent that civil rights regarding privacy and freedom continue to be disregarded and that sensitive data from European businesses can be passed on without any binding legal framework. European data protection cannot be legitimised by legal norms of other countries. Albrecht therefore called for adequate data protection enforcement rights that may also include penalties. “If we can impose penalties of up to five percent of the annual turnover, we are equipped with an efficient deterrent that may overcome market distortions we have been facing so far.”
“Europe now needs the vision and the courage to turn exemplary data protection into European law. The European heads of government are in a position to establish a true counterweight to the United States and Asia-Pacific, create many new jobs in Europe and thus bring Europe back onto the global IT stage”, concluded Helmut Fallmann, host and member of the Managing Board of Fabasoft.
The German version of Jan Philipp Albrecht’s new book „Finger weg von unseren Daten! Wie wir entmündigt und ausgenommen werden“ has been published by Knaur Taschenbuch, ISBN 978-3-426-78687-1.
The English version titled “Hands off our data!” can be downloaded from Jan Philipp Albrecht’s web site at https://www.janalbrecht.eu/fileadmin/material/Dokumente/JP_Albrecht_hands-off_final_WEB.pdf.