After the technical revolution: Digitization requires a political and social upheaval – Berlin

Age, birthplace, weight, count, consumption, allergies, hobbies, clubs, resorts – there are many things about us The contemporaries are on the net. Who owns, who benefits and how do we protect our data?

We are in the midst of a turn of the century whose dimensions are barely noticeable. The greatest technological transformation has just begun, a fundamental change: the departure of almost all the inhabitants of the Earth towards digital, the end of the analog world. Even the last great advances of modernity – such as photography, telegraphy, telephone, X-rays, or television – were detectable and explainable in the analog space. Who was born in the 1950s to the 1980s, is one of the very last years of history (of humanity!), Which has become analogous. The pause is immense.

Since about 1999, in industrialized countries, there is probably no more human child without a screen and virtual worlds are no longer developing – and this will be in the foreseeable future, probably for centuries to come. And every person who googles, catches, post, order online or claims a public service simultaneously provides data to private or public institutions – a raw material, a digital raw material as valuable as natural resources.

He does not seem to be fully aware of the fundamental changes in society. The transformation is a fact and it is incredible. It is amazing how much the issue of digital communication and consumer electronics is central to teenagers and young adults.

Pupils rarely work to the point of asking: when should it be online at school, when to turn on the device, where to use it, where not, when it will be returned, when it will have been collected and what content will schoolchildren be allowed to access Divide WhatsApp groups and so on. Almost all modern industrial societies want to swim, swim in the digital data stream – and rarely know who they are for.

Data collection is necessary and useful

Since Google has also collected data on children via YouTube in order to attract them with advertisements, the group, tried by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the New York public prosecutor, must pay a fine of $ 170 million. of dollars. A breeze for global data fishermen, who reported profits of about $ 9.5 billion in the last quarter of 2018 alone.

Digital data flows are changing access to the world of individuals, groups, societies, and states. They change their representation, interpretation and meaning, opening up a new dimension of the virtual and the representation. Theoretically, every human being can communicate with each other, virtually synchronously, anywhere in the world.

There has never been such a communication measure. Metadata, that is, data on other data, is produced billions of times a day, more than any other product in the history of the genre.

So many things are so much easier, faster, better! Administrations can work more effectively with the latest registries and the state's ability to intelligently assess their data collection. Waiting times are getting shorter, the authorities are more respectful of citizens and transparent, people are saving lives on both sides of the counter.

A state, a municipality should have an overview: how many people of what age live here? How many come and go? How many kindergartens, schools, teachers, educators will need it in one, two, eight years? How many policemen and city cleaners will be needed, what will be the capacity of the water supply, sanitation and electricity companies? How many and which doctors need to be trained, are vaccines and prevention plans needed? Erase data defines a clear track.

Public administrations have been pragmatic miracles since their invention in China and Mesopotamia, thousands of years ago, for example to control the granaries of ancient cities or the tax obligations of citizens.

The collection of public data is necessary for any society and can lead to considerable progress. A gigantic upheaval is at work that could and should serve the well-being of all. The aim is better basic services, better services of general interest, and it is often said that Germany lags behind in the comparison of countries, especially as regards transparency.

Municipalities should become more transparent

Carsten Grosse Starmann, Senior Project Manager of the Bertelsmann Foundation and head of the "LebensWerte Kommune" program, says that so far only a few German municipalities have published their data as open data, including Bonn, Cologne and Moers. . In total, only 70 of the more than 11 000 municipalities in Germany do so.

Data collection by the state began with the first census of Prussian subjects in the early 19th century. In a more confident democracy, state censuses were resisted, after which the Constitutional Court of December 1983 reinforced the "fundamental right to informational self-determination". In order to ensure that data can not be assigned personally if possible, the questionnaires have been reworded. The personal questionnaire asked for age, sex, denomination, number of persons in the household, education, occupation, sideline, travel time and means of transportation used.

Again: Yes, it is clear that the administration in place needs data to plan: how much space is needed? Where is there a lack of good infrastructure? How is state financial equalization regulated? Without clear data, chaos occurs. The first census after reunification took place in 2011. The next census will take place in May 2021 in the whole of the European Union, so also in this country.

A man is holding a computer on which is projected an illustrated code.Photo: REUTERS

The pessimism of the data does not help. But optimism in data sharing lacks crucial steps. In the digital age prevails to know – until now! – a fundamental change of all state administrations in history. Today, virtually all digital interfaces between the public administration and the population are monopolized by private companies and this state can only mark a period of transition. In the long run, it is as irresponsible as it is untenable.

We use Google or Facebook to find links to authorities or addresses of public service providers such as clinics. Moreover, whenever the benefit of the data is important for the companies, the profits increase. "On the Internet, you are no longer just the famous recipient of the Stone Age media on television, you are also a broadcaster," writes Peter Glaser, pioneer of digital observation in literature.

As the issuer, we are suppliers. And we not only provide data to our state, but also commercial data processors with their algorithms or data hackers with their phishing. We "users" control up to here little – nothing. And the democratic constitutional state either. In the meantime, authoritarian systems such as China are largely using their monopoly on data control for repressive purposes and outperforming Orwellian dystopias.

Digitization allows new forms of crime

Data feeds also attract criminal data fishermen. Every few weeks, alerts about huge leaks in some data tanks. The data infiltrates like oil in the ocean, are no longer captured, are no longer a hedge. Also effective are the professionals of cybercrime, as in the case that was revealed in 2015 "Carbanak". Cybercriminals have stolen bank and money data from more than 100 banks in some 30 countries, Europol said.

It was a digital bank robbery by pirates of ATMs, whose network covered Spain, Romania, Belarus, Taiwan and the United States. In the Darknet anomic, people exchange weapons, drugs, brutal ideologies. Each message is accompanied by shock and outrage, each spreading from a mild to massive horror. And then the dread disappears until the next scandal.

Especially the well-known data collection, the average people reassures us: the ocean of data is so huge, the amount of data is so great – no one can sort, let alone use. Plus, I have nothing to hide in the data collection. Really? Should Amazon or the health insurance company know if I sent my grandmother a warming blanket or reading magnifier via an online order? What conclusions do data researchers derive from it? Soon, "personalized" ads will appear on the order's website, and a health insurance company will be able to draw conclusions about the old lady's state of health, about changing the rates or about the Cancellation of benefits.

This state of data and the dependence of the law on private fleets vis-à-vis data fishermen must change. The establishment of plans in democratic constitutional states, public search engines and state clouds deserves our full support.

Politics is lagging behind

In the long run, only the decarbonization and decentralization of large firms will be able to put an end to the arbitrary data collection. The destruction of these unprecedented monopolies represents an extremely complex interdisciplinary challenge that is not yet sufficiently recognized and dealt with in the society of the extreme division of labor.

Once everything is clarified, everyone wants to protect their legitimate private data. Everyone wants to guard against data hackers and data bastards, data controllers and false recipients of digital information.

In the global system of data flows, the technical revolution faces a political and social upheaval. She is still outside. There is no better opportunity to begin than to better understand the meaning of good transparent and democratic public administration. The ball is in the field of democratic constitutional states.

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