2. Big Data, benefits and malpractice’
3. Two complementary roles of the individual
Therefore individuals are both, subjects and objects of mining and processing their private data.
As predictable the different positions harden, the matadors dig their feet into the ground. The Obama administration sides very clearly with the FBI, questioning the demands of the civil society. Apple, as leader of the tech pack, defends its rights with both tooth and nail against the claims of the administration.
But the standoff is less entertaining as it sounds. It reflects the ongoing tries to balance the rights of the civil society for privacy with the needs of the state to fulfil its purpose. About 50 years ago, the question would have been decided very easily in favour of the governmental claims. The stance of the tech companies reflects an evolution in the understanding of privacy. In this meanwhile fierce fight, the pendulum currently leans more to the civil society, backed by the customers of the techies which as citizens are not comfortable with the current situation. The latest exchange of naughty arguments was about the FBI”s assertions, Apple would measure differently while giving China access to iPhone data. This assertion was countered by the iPhone producer, it had agreed to store date from its Chinese customers on Chinese soil, but “never made user data, whether stored on the iPhone or in iCloud, more technologically accessible to any country’s government”.
All this sounds like a grudge match and misses the point: What is the best solution possible to meet both justified demands? A new dynamic equilibrium has to be figured out. This is not the task of some lonely decisions by courts and will take discourses, studies and last not least, new technologies which can fulfil both claims: the government’s requirements to do its job and the civil society’s demands for privacy.
The sitting president of the United States makes his case against the Apple Initiative in respect of privacy. As statist-in-chief he choses one of the most thrilling tech audiences at SXSW to deploy his message to the stunned civil society: for the sake of your individual security and national security, the government has to intrude your privacy, which we don’t like, but we have to, so sorry.
From distant Europe, effectively not so distant with the Internet, I wonder. Is Mr. O addressing the same nation which conquered the most dangerous aggression against humanity ever? Which was late in the race to space but reached the moon first, inspired by a different president who accepted the challenge and ignited an until then unknown endeavour? The same nation who still gives the GPS for free to the world, saving millions of tons of carbon dioxide daily? Which unleashed with the Internet the most efficient societal, economical disruption since the invention of the printing press? With a unique technological, entrepreneurial ecosystem, spreading outstanding ideas over the world, igniting hundreds of thousands of young entrepreneurs to make a difference, to change the world, conquering poverty with sharing economy, crowdsourcing, facilitating everyday life with artificial intelligence? This advanced, unique civil society should not be able to solve 21st century challenges with a developed 21st century mindset and 21st century technology?
Come on Mr. O, please sing me a different song!
The blue chips of American Technology Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft are united to ward their customers from the authorities’ grip on privacy.
A challenge with all involved technological, political, juridical aspects. Which finally will lead to security on the one side, privacy on the other side. No one should say from the beginning: ‘impossible’.
We should trust in a collaborative society which invents an automated car, declares the computer as a driver, to be able to develop appropriate solutions for this sensible issue too.
The refusal of the tech giants on behalf of their customers is the first step to ignite a “moonshot” in this respect. All in all, a victory for the civil society. This move could have influence far beyond the US territory, a role model for other democracies facing the same issue.