“DATA FOR HUMANITY”: A polemic

A new initiative addresses a topical issue: the use of big data. Initiators of the following principals:

1. Do not harm (sounds like Google)
2. Use data to help create peaceful coexistence
3. Use data to help vulnerable people and people in need
4. Use data to preserve and improve natural environment
5. Use data to help creating a fair world without discriminationare Roberto V. Zicari, Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany and Andrej Zwitter, University of Groningen, the Netherlands.
Source: Data for Humanity


State and Science as trustees for our individual data?
On first sight a hodgepodge of human wellness wordings like basic civil rights, new social contract et. al. The intentions and interests of the scientists become evident when we get an understanding of their own goals: “…. in order to create sufficient transparency and trust, leading scientific institutions should exercise as a trustee of data and algorithms that currently evade democratic control. This also requires an appropriate code of ethics, at least all those who would have to acknowledge that receive access to sensitive data and algorithms – a kind of Hippocratic Oath for IT professionals. (Translation by Google).”
Finally the authors reveal their own interests, those of science organisations and their funders: give us (leading science organisations = experts) control over these processes and everything will be all right. Science and state as trustees? No, definitively not. This pivotal position, if any, should be designed and controlled by the civil society itself, not by the state and associated science organisations.

Data Mailbox – a helpful proposal
Sorry guys, but the melange of good will phantasies invalidates the good intentions.
The dire world the authors create, one of this sort: “To use technology to incapacitate the citizen. Big Nudging and Citizen scores abuse centrally collected personal data for behavioral control that carries totalitarian characteristics. …This is not only compatible with human rights and democratic principles, but also unfit to manage a modern, innovative company” is just an angst phantasy. No one is forced by totalitarian powers to use social media or Internet of Things devices; at least in the democratic world. It is the freedom of decision, my individual decision, not the gun of a tyrant at my head.
Are the proposals of the authors worthless? Just a variety of recycled wordings, goals which are formulated every era anew since the dawn of Enlightenment? One proposal has real value: “The author can imagine, for example, that a law for every citizen regulates the establishment of a “personal data mailbox” standardized format in which everything is fed what some companies about it or know him.” (FAZ, 10th January 2016 Translation: Google). Indeed this is a helpful proposal insofar as it contributes to data sovereignty.

Data Sovereignty is the key
The “Data for Humanity” project uses a variety of words and proposals just to express one single aim: Data Sovereignty. Indeed this distinguished goal will help as guideline for dealing with personal data. And it is not just a defensive, only rights securing motif. The development of individuality and data sovereignty are linked to each others. Therefore data sovereignty is essential for the wellbeing of individuals which are the base of every society. To assure these rights no excessive new legislation is needed, neither overreaching state regulations and state dependent scientific organisations. The civil society, individuals, companies, organisations comprised are strong and competent enough to deal with this issue, to handle the tasks, to finance the framework without state interference and using taxpayers money.