Internet data protection: a technical challenge (too)

(This blog post was translated by EDPS – Many thanks – PSch)

German version
French version

It is certainly nothing new to say that data protection and technology go hand in hand, but at least since information was leaked by Edward Snowden we have known that the technical weaknesses of digital information and communication systems are mercilessly exploited, and not only by criminals and rogue states. Legal regulation – as essential as it is – must therefore be accompanied by robust technology that offers protection against surveillance and gives people back control over their own data. The right of informational self-determination is not worth much if the protection of electronically processed information has as many holes as a Swiss cheese.
Against this background, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Peter Hustinx, has taken the initiative to establish an ‘Internet Privacy Engineering Network’ (IPEN) to support engineers and hardware and software developers in coordinating their work to improve online protection mechanisms. Better links are to be established between projects to embed data protection as part of technology (Privacy by Design). More information is available on the website of the EDPS.

The IPEN launch event, which was co-hosted by EAID, was held in Berlin on 26 September 2014. More than 55 delegates from different countries gave presentations on their projects and discussed ways to move technological internet data protection forward. Subjects covered included the protection of internet identity (including the possibility of anonymous use of services) and approaches to secure encrypted communication and to the prevention of security and data protection risks when mobile surfing with smartphones. The conference outcomes will be gradually published on the IPEN website, as will the live streams from the event. There is already a lively exchange of information and ideas on the IPEN mailing list. Interested parties are invited to subscribe to the list.
It is hoped that, after a good start, IPEN will continue to develop successfully. Only if it is possible to guarantee data protection in the context of rapidly developing technology can we, as society, utilise the opportunities offered by information technology without concern. We need as many partners as possible in this project. IPEN provides a structure in which data protection activists, practitioners and academics can make a contribution.

Yours faithfully, Peter Schaar

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