Delano Magazine editor in chief Duncan Roberts, pictured, says we must now trust that authorities will be up to the job to protect peoples' data
Photo: Maison Moderne
As confidence in tech companies has eroded, Europe must hope that GDPR will do its job and give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data.
Trust. The word keeps cropping up whenever there is talk about the European Union’s new General Data Protection Regulation and the recent scandal surrounding the harvesting of Facebook user data by Cambridge Analytica.
Trust has been broken by companies that were supposed to self-regulate. The rebuilding of trust, with the help of stringent new checks such as those imposed by GDPR, can be used by companies to gain market advantage, reckon several of the experts we have interviewed for the cover story in this edition.
“But blind trust is no longer sustainable,” says Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake in an op-ed for The Guardian, in which she praises the EU for “setting norms in the digital economy.”
Indeed, the success of GDPR is a cornerstone of plans for the Digital Single Market, which the European Commission claims could create hundreds of thousands of new jobs and contribute €415 billion per year to the EU economy.
The Facebook scandal was indicative of what appears to have been an almost systematic disdain by US tech companies for European privacy principles. In a recent article about data privacy activist Max Schrems, Bloomberg cites the young Austrian as he describes a visit by tech company representatives to a class on privacy law that he was taking as an exchange student at Santa Clara University.
“They denigrated European privacy laws without realising there was a European in the room,” he said. No stranger to Luxembourg, thanks to his visits to the European Court of Justice, Schrems has been called “a catalyst for change” after he won a case against the transfer of Facebook data from Ireland to the USA.
Indeed, there is a case to be made that it “spurred plans for GDPR and led to Privacy Shield.” Schrems is licking his lips at the prospect of the cases he can file once the General Data Protection Regulation becomes law, the article suggests.
The Cambridge Analytica story at least has opened the eyes of many users of social media. They are now wary of algorithms and bots, and they are shutting down apps and taping over camera lenses on their mobile devices.
But, with the apparent safeguard of GDPR in place, many will continue to upload photos and data that can easily be used without their consent for all sorts of purposes. Data subjects, as the industry likes to call individuals, will shift their trust from tech companies to the authorities that will hold those companies accountable. We will just have to trust that the authorities are up to the job.
This editorial was first published in the April 2018 edition of Delano Magazine.