Do we have to give up on controlling state, agency or company-based data protection, or can we retain control?

The inbuilt tension between legitimate security concerns (fighting terrorism and organized crime) on the one hand, and preserving individual privacy rights, data protection and companies’ intellectual property rights on the other hand, increasingly leads to international quarrels. German society and media, in particular, are sensitive about their historical background of Gestapo and Stasi intrusions. Interestingly, the international debates and conflicts are mostly staged between allies, especially the U.S. and the EU/Germany.

Related questions include whether the intelligence agencies, also in western countries, are as reliably controlled by governments and parliaments as expected; whether there is some discretion of cooperation between intelligence agencies underneath the radar of governments; whether there are any legal or technical working hedges against data collection, particularly of metadata; and what the respective legal frameworks are.

  1. Alexei Voskressenski 2 weeks ago

    The state can believe that it can control agencies that are created to go through states and penetrate other states, but both the state itself and the civil society never can be completely sure of this. However data protection can be ensured by technical means and we must not give up controlling state, agency or company-based data protection.

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  2. Klaus Segbers 2 weeks ago

    the tension between these principles is a structural one, and it can hardly be overcome.
    apparently the outcome varies, dependent on the relative strength of the security apparatus and civil society, respectively, in a given society.
    also recent experiences with terrorist attacks may play a role.
    citizens are always in a reactive position because it is not known to them what techniques the intelligence agencies and police have at their disposal, and how this may influence their lives.
    so media have to play a crucial role here, as an alert system for potential and current risks.
    experience seems to tell us that only rarely is there a chance for society to intervene, mostly after so-called ‘big scandals’.
    it doesn’t make things easier that there is no clear division of roles, like the good and the bad. while the german government was the victim last year (nsa listening in on merkel’s cell phone), now the german intelligence services have apparently collected data from phone calls of other western european politicians and companies.
    so do we have to give up on this?

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  3. Dmitri Mitin 1 week ago

    I am fairly pessimistic about our capacity to retain control over personal information. Such efforts are indispensable and should be vigorously pursued by the public, but they are likely to lag behind the accelerating dissolution of the private domain. We both willfully surrender massive amounts of sensitive information about ourselves and unwittingly leave behind deep electronic footprints that are picked up, aggregated, and systematized into detailed behavioral and preference profiles that the Stasi and KGB would not dare dream about. All of that is accomplished at low cost: my credit card, cell service, and internet providers know what I do, what my interests are, and where I go; even my car can betray me by reporting back to the manufacturer (and potentially law-enforcement agencies) information about location, speed and the use of seat belts. It is this encroachment on privacy, rather than traditional inter-state or domestic spying, that entails the greatest potential for abuse.

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2 Comments

  1. Mathias J. Jongkor 1 week ago

    Each State actor with its non-state actor work side by-side in country by setting up their data in their institutions, they must have monitor its data.

    Nevertheless, state likewise other state in the globe, they control its information of their data from being hacker. Of course they do lock their data and being protected under security control.

    Because of awareness, state can assign highly skill in technology to monitor the data of the state. Security agencies and intelligence co-operate to tackle crime online. So, from here, state cannot give up, if it does, it would see as it is not able to overcome its data. Collecting data and control it must be crucial for the state with its agencies in pursuing crime in the state.

    Nowadays, information is very simple to separate rapidly roaming around the globe and might be beneficiary to rival. Bear in mind that the information is a source of money and weapon too.

    For example, privacy of Universities where is the hub of intellectuals must be protect bylaws. And Of course, technology, information and communication (TIC) are so important for business around the world and have connected with global business. Yet, state cannot give up at all as long is the one who in charge of nation.

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  2. AW 1 day ago

    The issue of governmental control over army, police and security services has been probably the most pressing one for every ruler, their legitimacy notwithstanding. This because the illegitimate or unpopular ones have not seldom been overthrown by army, while the legitimate ones always knew, that their own security services know enough to blackmail them. This threat notwithstanding, nobody ever seriously questioned the necessity of having intelligence agencies as they are like atomic weapons: once acquired, nobody ever abandons them. I personally do not think, that parliamentary control over security services is possible: too many people would have to get access to qualified information. Besides, the security services activities can then be used in political debates and become victims of politicians’ cheap populism – too much of a prise when it comes to national security. Control by a special body comprised of a limited number of MPs representing all political parties sitting in the parliament appears to me to be the only more or less realistic option. Last but not least, I do not think, that letting ghosts of the past taking over the present is the wisest thing to do. It was partially due to Germany’s anxiety to letting security services do their jobs, that RAF terrorists were able kill and kidnap so many people. In our days, with the threat of terrorism being as big, as never before, proper security services become a matter of national survival.
    P.S. I would not agree with the statement, that the most heated debates are taking place between the Western allies. With the cyber war between China and the USA gaining momentum, it is first and foremost China, who conduct industrial spying on a big scale. However, this is rather an example of “classical” application of intelligence services capacities – not against “friends”, but against competitors.

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