Report on New Year's reception Privacy First with Brenno de Winter
On 19 January 2017, Privacy First Foundation organised its annual New Year's drinks cum debate evening at its office location in Amsterdam's Volkshotel, click HERE for the invitation and public advance notice. This event this time was largely dedicated to 'Shared Democracy': after Athens (democracy 1.0) and our current 19th-century parliamentary democracy (2.0), in Privacy First's view, it is high time for further renewal and more citizen participation: Shared Democracy, democracy 3.0! In his New Year speech, Privacy First chairman Bas Filippini gave our take on this:
"Privacy First stands for own choices in a free environment. In doing so, we work from the classic principles of democratic rule of law and international treaties. One way we do this is through litigation, including our ongoing cases against license plate parking and for the right to anonymous, cash payment. In addition, new cases against automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) and the System Risk Indication (SyRI) are in the pipeline. We cooperate with other organisations and law firms in these. In addition to our court cases, we continuously conduct quiet diplomacy towards all relevant parties.
Privacy is still under pressure nationally and internationally and is coming under increasing pressure. There has been less and less freedom rather than more freedom in the last 15 years, both in terms of mobility and in the financial and medical spheres. Our conclusion after seven years of litigation is that the current rule of law is under pressure and has difficulty defending itself against erosion from within. Judges often struggle with principled litigation: they are afraid to address the fundamental privacy issue and only want to rule on peripheral issues.
Our current parliamentary democracy is in need of renewal. After democracy 1.0 from ancient Athens and our current democracy 2.0 from the 19th century, it is time for a new model: democracy 3.0. That new democracy should take much more account of modern developments that threaten to undermine our democracy. Privacy First would like to move towards a Shared Democracy 3.0 in which the very forces that threaten our current democracy can be harnessed for a new, sustainable and democratic society. These include the changing role of the media as the fourth power, including social media and alternative media, which determine what "the news" is and what is "true and not true". In addition, the changing role of citizens: how could you involve citizens more in civic participation and give them more responsibilities? And how can you use new technology? Think, for instance, of electronic platforms and blockchain technology. Just as the industrial revolution caused environmental pollution, the information revolution is causing freedom and privacy pollution. How can we deploy 'privacy by design' in a way that strengthens democracy?
The power of government vis-à-vis citizens is no longer proportional. So a distribution of power has to start happening through, among other things, more citizen participation. This will also bring government closer to citizens, both at national and European level.
Here's to a free and privacy-friendly 2017!"
'How much more freedom are we going to sacrifice for our security? 100% security = 0% freedom' Bas Filippini
ICT researcher Brenno de Winter then gave an equally engaging and entertaining presentation on current issues around privacy, information security and the current gap between citizens and government:
Digital storm surge
"We have become so good at digitisation that we no longer need to work. We check in our bags ourselves, we will soon be able to walk into a shop and check in, grab our items, walk out of the shop again and have paid automatically, take a self-driving taxi, and so on. This is an economic measure, with the great advantage that we no longer need staff. The industrial age is over. We are no longer needed. Why is that so threatening? I do have to be able to pay the mortgage at the end of the month....
Titanic had a few characteristics that our software industry also has. The first characteristic is that by default, we try to create a level of a certain safety. And the more safety measures you take (like sloops attached to a boat), the more insecure people become about safety. There was also the choice between a life jacket or a sloop, but people with a life jacket still got into a sloop, and lastly, we can call for help if things go wrong, but then we hope to be heard. We are looking for a 'safety of life at sea', but with data. We will have to learn from past incidents.
We are still very immature in the information society. With data, there are a lot of risks that we cannot foresee. Fortunately, a lot of things go right, such as that we have a lot of experience with data breach notification. But one of the things that happens a lot is that a lot of personal data is put through a wash so that it is no longer personal data. These are then forwarded to America, for example, and then linked again with data from Big Data, so they are personal data again.
It is time to approach things differently. Why don't we see our personal data as our property anymore? When we start seeing personal data as property (again), we will also demand that if we hand it over, our data is properly secured. If Google makes money from my data, then I should be a business partner of theirs. Besides, the debate security versus privacy is an unfair one. After all, we don't know what is in return when I surrender my privacy. It is not about whether or not you have something to hide. It is about how you handle what is yours. When privacy is violated, usually other human rights are taken in the wake."
There was then an extensive debate with the audience (the turnout exceeded the room capacity), followed by a convivial drink where we could toast together to a privacy-friendly 2017.
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