The Painstaking Hunt for the Data-EeL

4815259737_4b08662719_oEvery day, we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (one followed by 18 zeros), which is equivalent to 57.5 billion 32 GB iPads. Data is much of a big and voracious eel: it is exponentially growing and it moves fast and slips away from one place to another. People like us – normal people, and not great hackers – cannot really control it.

“You can’t stem this tide, sailor!”

It simply comes from everywhere, even from us. It comes from the sensors used to gather climate information, cell phone GPS signals and purchase transaction records; it also comes from our silly tweets on Twitter, posts on Facebook and digital pictures or videos in the cloud, just to name a few.

This data is called “big data”. Probably “big” enough to seem challenging even for EU reforms on data protection, which is our greatest concern nowadays.

Whereas the right to data protection could be found in both national constitutions and the EU’s Charter on Fundamental Rights, as well as in the Treaty of Lisbon, the new focus on privacy rights is the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR. Obviously, it is not the data protection directive 95/46/EC already in force, which in comparison with the GDPR would be retrograde and inadequate for our technological and political purposes.

GDPR’s idea is to build users’ trust in online services through better information about their rights and more control of their own data than in the past. It is all about the protection of rights generally provided by the EU framework, but in addition to that, there there is a new development: in a world of global surveillance and continuous technological changes, what we need today is a digital, dynamic and fresh privacy policy. And obviously, we cannot spare money on it: our fundamental rights are not “low cost” and data could be at the same time the oil and the nuclear weapon of the future. It will turn out as a double-edged sword if we do not cope correctly with it. Only the new EU-Reform could actually be the answer to the Big Data revolution.

Indeed, it would be also applied to non-EU-based data controllers who offer services within the Union, such as Google. For the next five years, in fact, the dialogue between the Silicon Valley, as the center of modern technologies, and Brussels, as the gravity center of political rules, would be the core of the international disquisition regarding data security. Google, as well as all the other multinational giants on the internet playing on the international chessboard of politics, will not provide further information about the citizens of the EU’s countries to the US.

secret services without the explicit consent of European authorities. If they violate the EU-parliament-approved rules, they will incur an effective, proportionate and dissuasive penalty or, to put it another way, they will have to pay a fine between a hundred “million-euros-baby” and 5% of their international traffic.

Information’s bulimic appetite does not do any good to anybody, right?

By Alessia Sofia Giorgiutti

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