We inside DiEM25 want to change Europe – for the better. We want a democratic, solidly united and visionary Europe. To foster this, we are currently working on a Progressive Agenda for Europe. DiEM25 members from all over Europe are developing common whitepapers for our seven pillars. And each whitepaper will be created with the input of all of DiEM25’s members as well as a range of experts in the field. While some pillars are already pretty advanced (e.g. the European New Deal), others are still under construction.
The 7th pillar of DiEM is Technology or “An Internet of People”. On the occasion of DiEM25s 2nd birthday, on February 10th, Renata Avila and Christoph Schneider established the thematic DSC “Democratic Technologies”. And because we are now talking about this 7th pillar, here is a picture of a rasterized dummy beeing penetrated by Ones and Zeros.
Why a technology pillar, you may ask yourself. What ought to be developed in technology? Aren’t deregulated captalist market just doing fine in producing innovation at the speed of light? Well, while it is indeed true that there is no lack of smartphones, self-driving cars, HD-displays and specialized AI (e.g. Alexa, Siri) etc., there is also the question at what cost this is beeing done. Is technology beeing deployed wisely or is it maybe much worse than it could be, given the current mode of production?
An example: In these days you read and hear a lot about the Cambridge Analytica Con in mainstream media:
“Cambridge Analytica inappropriately accessed Facebook profile information belonging to 50 million people and then used that data to construct a powerful internet-based psychological influence weapon.”
Yasha Levine argues, that the media coverage is entirely misleading:
It “makes it seem to readers unfamiliar with the long history of the struggle for control of the digital sphere as if the main problem is that the bad actors at Cambridge Analytica crossed the transmission wires of Facebook in the Promethean manner of Victor Frankenstein—taking what were normally respectable, scientific data protocols and perverting them to serve the diabolical aim of reanimating the decomposing lump of political flesh known as Donald Trump. (…) What Cambridge Analytica is accused of doing—siphoning people’s data, compiling profiles, and then deploying that information to influence them to vote a certain way—Facebook and Silicon Valley giants like Google do every day, indeed, every minute we’re logged on, on a far greater and more invasive scale.”
Levine concludes with the remark, that
“Today’s internet business ecosystem is built on for-profit surveillance, behavioral profiling, manipulation and influence. That’s the name of the game. It isn’t just Facebook or Cambridge Analytica or even Google. It’s Amazon. It’s eBay. It’s Palantir. It’s Angry Birds. It’s MoviePass. It’s Lockheed Martin. It’s every app you’ve ever downloaded. Every phone you bought. Every program you watched on your on-demand cable TV package.”
Indeed the problem is not, that there was a rogue company that played “unfair” and “stole” data from facebook. Even Silicon Valley-CEOs admit that the problem goes deeper and is embedded in the very structure of today data-mining-driven internet.
We're in the very early stages of a major shift in software. As more of the world goes digital, the responsibility of tech companies grows exponentially. The days of arguing that (and acting like) tech companies are merely platforms and pipes are behind us.
— Aaron Levie (@levie) 20. März 2018
We at DiEM25, especially in the thematic DSC “Democratic Technologies”, are trying to find out, how this problem can be visualized, understood and adressed. Is it the user that has to stand up and fight for his/hers digital rights? There are already highly usable tools and manuals like e.g. Data Detox Kit available and we urge you to use them. But this maybe like the biblical battle between David and Goliath – using the Data-Detox-slingshot against a Valley full of High-End-Specialists.
Meanwhile – as fas as eu-government official are concerned – this picture seems to pop up when it comes to Cybersecurity:
Fortunately regulation attempts aren’t as fruitless as it may seem:
“On May 25 (…) the power balance will shift towards consumers, thanks to a European privacy law that restricts how personal data is collected and handled. The rule, called General Data Protection Regulation or GDPR, focuses on ensuring that users know, understand, and consent to the data collected about them. Under GDPR, pages of fine print won’t suffice. Neither will forcing users to click yes in order to sign up.
Instead, companies must be clear and concise about their collection and use of personal data like full name, home address, location data, IP address, or the identifier that tracks web and app use on smartphones. Companies have to spell out why the data is being collected and whether it will be used to create profiles of people’s actions and habits. Moreover, consumers will gain the right to access data companies store about them, the right to correct inaccurate information, and the right to limit the use of decisions made by algorithms, among others.”
If this regulation is beeing applied forceful, it should be at least more difficult to maintain a business model based on Datatrade an Advertisement – in Europe.
But also the USA is already more regulated as you may think.
“The FTC has a modicum of authority, and has used it when companies grossly overreach—as it did against Facebook in 2011, when the company failed to keep its promises regarding how it treated their data. In the Cambridge Analytica case, the FTC could fine Facebook up to $40,000 per violation—with 50 million people impacted, the potential fine hypothetically stretches into the trillions.”
We at DiEM25 believe, that this can only be the starting point. In our thematic DSC “Democratic Technologies” we are developing the internet and technology policies of the future. – A future that contains a decentralised, secure and transparent internet, that doesn’t sell its users to the highest bidder. To have a glimps on what such a legislation would look like, please click here. Anyway here is another picture of some matrix-style rootkit code:
If you want to join us now or in future meetings, please find more infos in the Mattermost-Team of the DSC Berlin in the designated channel “P7 Technology”, write an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on twitter.
Find more infos on our communication platform Mattermost here.
The calendar can be found here.
Cybersecurity Partnership by Merril College of Journalism – CC-BY-NC (flickr.com/photos/umdnews/7562831366)
Data Thief – Hacker – Cyber Criminal by Blue Coat Photos – CC-BY-SA (flickr.com/photos/111692634@N04/15855653380)
Rootkit code by Christiaan Colen – CC-BY-SA