NRC Next, 11 June 2013: 'Encroachment on privacy you don't feel. Not in your stomach, not in your wallet.'
“Privacy is not easily the subject of public outcry. The concept is too abstract. The much more concrete concept of security always wins out in the debate.
A government that spies on all its citizens, can read every email. Citizens are angry. But what exactly is this anger about? About Obama's dishonesty? About the scale, the comprehensiveness of the spying programme? Or are citizens really concerned about their own privacy?
There is no fuss about privacy so soon, says Corien Prins, professor of law and technology at Tilburg University. The concept is too abstract for that. You don't feel privacy violation, not in your stomach, not in your wallet. And everyone understands it differently. Who cares, I have nothing to hide, Prins often hears at her lectures on privacy.
"Until it hits you yourself." She always illustrates this with an example from America, where in job applications it is increasingly normal to ask the candidate as the last question: may we have the login code of your Facebook account? "Only then do my listeners think: that's going too far for me."
Because 'privacy' is so abstract, it has led a dormant existence for years. In the eyes of many, the Dutch Data Protection Authority is a toothless watchdog that at most sometimes barks a bit. Privacy legislation is still in its infancy because few companies, let alone citizens, feel the need to raise privacy violations in court cases - which, in turn, advance case law. And the privacy file is also floating politically: you can't really score with it as a politician.
Somewhat Dutch is this attitude. In Germany, says Prins, citizens are more critical of state intervention because of the past. ,,Laws there, unlike here, can be tested against the constitution by the courts. A law that allowed the government to collect calling and surfing behaviour of citizens did not pass that way." Citizens also value independence and privacy in the United States, which only relatively recently broke away from the British.
In the US, for instance, laws are in the pipeline that restrict data collection by social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. And in the Netherlands, too, civil rights initiatives such as Bits of Freedom and PrivacyFirst are increasingly visible in the public debate. Issues surrounding the ov-chipkaart, Google Street View and the Electronic Patient File, among others, came to prominence on the agenda partly because of them. (...)"
Source: NRC Next, 11 June 2013: 'And why do we care so little about his leak?'