Europe Urged To Make Safeguarding Personal Data A Selling Point

Dec 11, 2014

Image credit: Shutterstock

By Natasha Lomas

How do you balance the competing interests of personal data privacy with the rapacious appetites of big data fueled digital businesses? European data protection authorities are continuing to wrangle with this question, and have today published a joint declaration on the principles they believe are core to achieving a balance.

The declaration has been published by Europe’s Article 29 Working Party, the body comprised of data protection representatives from the individual Member States of the European Union, on the same day as a data governance forum being held in Paris to debate the challenges posed by the collection of vast amounts of digital data.

Speaking at the forum, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls was quoted by Le Monde asserting the importance of ensuring individual web users have privacy-enabling controls to safeguard their personal data in an ever-more connected age.

“Europe must make the protection of personal data an attractiveness and competitiveness argument. The user must be able to make choices on its own data with knowledge. This has a huge economic potential,” he said, making an economic argument for safeguarding privacy.


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8 comments on “Europe Urged To Make Safeguarding Personal Data A Selling Point

  • The European Union is indeed a strange beast.

    Its economic policy is absolutely inadequate, to be gentle, and it’s stuck between opposing national interests -which are more often than not strongly linked to the prevailing electoral mantras. Not to speak about the absolutely inexistent foreign policy, which is not just shameful, it could be downright dangerous, considering what’s close to our borders.

    And yet, it’s worth having. Not only for the big things, like the open borders you can cross with the same ease you cross a road on your zebra crossing, but also because its attachment to principles which are, to my mind, very sound. Like the one in question here: the user must be able to decide the fate of its data. Even if this flies in the face of business.

    “[…] This has a huge economic potential,” he said, making an economic argument for safeguarding privacy.”

    I wouldn’t have used this argument, though. We don’t need to attach an economical advantage to things, like an apology. Individual Rights do not need to apologize to profit or be profitable to be stated and enforced: they are there because they are the right thing to do. Full stop. And if that makes Facebook’s life uncomfortable… well: so be it.

    What I do like about the document is, also, the fact it guarantees itself against some possible grimness that could come from the TTIP. We’ve been working hard to have a set of laws, here, and I would find really… disappointing to weaken them or water them down to keep Google happy.



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  • Consider the early USA. It was almost as polyglot as Europe way back then. Look at place names. The combining states frequently made war on each other. Today, it is far from a smooth union, but it show the feasibility of the concept, and a model that can be gradually extended to the whole world.

    Eventually the USA attacking Iraq will seem as preposterous as Kentucky tanks attacking Delaware. The place to fight is in court.



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  • We don’t need to attach an economical advantage to things, like an apology. Individual Rights do not need to apologize to profit or be profitable to be stated and enforced: they are there because they are the right thing to do. Full stop.

    We certainly shouldn’t have to. The moral case is clear, but this is called heading them off at the pass. I’m all for attacking the case on their terms right from the get go…as well. Not only do the forces of the market work with little or no heart, but they can thrive with very few brains as well. Capitalist that I am, some of us, sadly, have belief systems that allow whole industries to be driven from a two paragraph executive summary.

    Ceding privacy to those with the capital to exploit it is a poor way to generate wealth for all. We are just starting to get the flaps in the back of our head closed to keep out the priestly switch flickers. Letting a second lot in to more cleverly direct our attention for their ultimate benefit and our short term convenience, may be hugely impoverishing of diversity and individuality. Our society has blossomed in its transition to become a stable culture of increasingly free agents. Memetic diversity and richness has served us well and we should police anything that threatens it. The argument for memetic richness is entirely one to make.



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  • This deeps into utopy: a united, federated world. I do hope we’ll get there some time but I doubt it will happen in my lifetime. Or even in that of the generation following mine. Couple of centuries, maybe…

    As for an European federation: my generation will inherit the problem and there will be a massive discussion over what to do. The times aren’t certainly the best ones: we come out of an era of general well being and pepperd with some very questionable ideologies -even if they might not be percieved as such, they are there, and they aren’t any less pernicious than any other. And now the estreme right is exploiting the deflation of that well being and the historic ignorance that came out of the above said ideology.

    In the next 10 years, I think, the big fight will be about whether to keep the Union together or not and, sadly, the current ineptitude of Europe’s leading class, the evanescence of the upcoming one and the troubled economy doesn’t make it easy… I hope I’m just being too pessimistic about it.



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  • The cost conscious state can save your tax dollars by letting Google and Amazon collect their data for them. After the court injunction to obtain it, you can rest assured that, at least, your incarceration for blasphemy remained respectful of your financial investment in the state.



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