EU: We demand data sovereignty! #freeyourdata

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EU: We demand data sovereignty! #freeyourdata

This petition had 63,075 supporters
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Why this petition matters

Started by Ali Jelveh

Every day we’re producing data. We’re Skyping with our friends and family across the globe, writing messages, mails and tweets. We’re uploading our holiday photos onto the cloud to share. Soon, we will be paying with digital money, saving our health data on the internet and analyzing our body and lifestyle with fitness apps. The opportunities that digital technology has given us have made our lives simpler. This is awesome.

But, what is my data? What happens to it? And what about the data I create when I’m not even using the internet or a smartphone?

These questions can only be answered by the companies who collect our personal data, store it, analyze it, sell it or lock us into behavior patterns with it. More and more companies are entering this field of data analysis, and some of the worlds largest companies control this space: whether it’s Amazon, Apple, Facebook or Google.

Our data is the oil of the 21st century

Most companies keep what they really do with our data under lock and key. With privacy policies and terms and conditions hundreds pages long, it is obvious that no one really has the time to read them.  Buried within these conditions are the hidden true business practices of companies. The reason for this kind of secrecy is simple: Every internet user that is willingly giving up their personal data rights is fueling the new oil rush of the 21st century.

What can we do?

If our data is the new oil, why are we not all oil sheiks? Every second, corporate giants make millions of dollars out of our personal data. We are degraded to a digital profile and our digital selves are subjected to a dragnet in order to be better ‘targeted’. In this new oil rush, we are fully screened and completely sold.

As individual citizens we have no chance to change the way corporations handle our data. But together we have the ability to take ownership of our data – to reclaim our data sovereignty.

Free Your Data

This is the reason I am proposing a new European legislation - so we’ll be able to regain our data sovereignty as citizens. The demand to the Federal Government and the EU-Parliament is as follows: Any company with more than 1 million (recurring) users is required to provide a requesting user with all data associated with this user free of charge, without delay and in a machine readable format. 

What does this mean for me?

I do not want to be kept in the dark. I want to know what companies know about me – some of who are richer and more powerful than entire countries. I want to be able to track, own and use my digital footprint, whether it is the data I’m producing carrying around on my smartphone, or the digital footprint I’m leaving with my purchase at the supermarket. I want to know.

The new law will ensure that every company must provide a citizen with an interface over which their data can be retrieved and used for their own purpose – whenever they want.

To enact this new law, I am fighting with the campaign “Free Your Data”. We, the citizens, can be the greatest force shaping a new digital future.

Contemporary Law

So far, the Freedom of Information Regulations and the Federal Data Protection Act (BDSG) have ensured my theoretical access to my data that is held by companies. Theoretically, I have the legal right to retrieve my data, however in practice this means something else. I must request my data in writing and it will only be given to me in paper form, usually after several requests and sometimes after the intervention of a lawyer – months later.

My privacy and my life can be broken up and exploited piece by piece. By whom, from where and what information about me has been scanned and stored I do not know. This is no longer acceptable in the 21st century. As a software developer and founder of a technology company, I am always fascinated by the opportunities new technology and the internet gives us. The liberal and democratic rights and values that were enacted in Germany are the reasons why my mother decided to make this country our new home. I will not give up these rights without a fight.

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