Data Protection vs. Data Wealth


Jan Philipp Albrecht

Cookies, Tracking, Big Data: when it comes to data protection the economy and politics are divided. The EU`s General Data Protection Regulation is supposed to ensure more equality, but is the economy even capable of data protection? Jan Philipp Albrecht, Member of the EU Parliament for the Green Party, Susanne Dehmel, Member of the Board and Head of the Working Group “Data Proection” from Bitkom e.V. and Ingo Dachwitz (Netzpolitik) debated this topic on Monday during re:publica.

According to Dehmel, to the economy data protection means mainly one thing: additional cost. For small to medium-sized businesses, as well as start-ups, the compulsory documentation requirements are huge. In addition, on an international level, data protection level significantly vary. Many companies fear sanctions if they can't fulfil their obligations. Legal regulations move too slow and are quickly overtaken by progress in technology. “New regulations are needed on how data is used, not whether”, says Dehmel who works for the umbrella association of the German digital economy.

Albrecht on the other hand opposes “competition at the cost of data protection.” The EU`s General Data Protection Regulation which came into play May 2016, means that there is a legal directive in place to protect consumers in Europe. Its provision sets out an EU-wide unified approach to the processing of person-related data for private companies and public authorities. In May 2018, the General Regulation will become binding for the European Internal Market. The General Data Protection Regulation also applies to companies situated outside of the European Union who offer services to EU citizens – this also applies to US corporations such as Facebook and Google.

Albrecht of the Green Party would like to see “Privacy by Design” as the main standard in the future. This means: companies would have to fulfil high data protection requirements within digital and technical innovation. According to this model, every user would have to explicitly approve each access to their personal data. This would put technology by companies with high data protection standards at a clear advantage. The need is there, until now no one has complained too much about data protection, says Albrecht.

In one aspect Albrecht and Dehmel are on the same page. Both demand simple, application-orientated guidelines: data protection regulation requires rules similar to the ones in traffic regulation where no one takes unnecessary risks, explains Albrecht. Find out more in #p17-Audio-Interview

By Marielle Klein (FF) & Sylvia Lundschien (EJS)

Photo credit: Fritz Schumann