German startup petitions for a new European data law
By Simon Lerner
German startup petitions for a new European data law
27 Mar 2015 - Data

Protonet, a German startup which makes secure private cloud services, has launched a petition for a European law to dramatically ease access to personal data.

#Freeyourdata is seeking to topple the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) and parent EU Data Protection Directive.

BDSG and its member state equivalents provide a right to access personal data. However, detractors bemoan a cumbersome application process requiring recourse to lawyers, a wait lasting months and incongruous final paper format.

The dream is a new European Data Sovereignty Act to decree that businesses with million strong user bases allows people to view personal information held about them at the click of a button – free of charge, without delay and on their screen.

The campaign is divided into seasons and episodes centered on “learn”, “debate” and “change.” Season 1 starts with an impressive, if a little morose, take on the history of digital technology and the corresponding rise in the capacity of governments and corporates to collect and use personal data.

The message is polemical. The campaign warns that we have entered into a Faustian pact by handing personal information in return for the lure of a free online service – “collection and exploitation of our digital identities” is the price paid.

Irrespective of your point of view, an engaging aspect of the proposal is that it offers a solution centered on opening rather than restricting access. Much of the debate up till now has centered on the latter (think the EU’s Right to Be Forgotten). Could this be a workable alternative to more privacy protection compliance requirements?

The petition has support from some prominent German public figures and 50 000 signatories. It is well timed with the European Commission understood to have begun drafting much-awaited new data protection regulations.

We will have to wait and see if it gets any traction.

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