GDPR Misconception No. 2: The principle of informational self-determination needs to be modified

This post is also available in: Deutsch (German)

Translated with

Our use of Data protection has become opportunistic: We ignore DP as long as we see no direct profit.

The principle of informational self-determination states that every person can decide for himself what happens to his data (fundamental right). Looking at the context of the decision of the highest court at that time, the whole thing seems somewhat absurd today. At that time (1983) it was about the collection of data within the framework of the census in Germany (i.e. vis-à-vis the state). This year, data processing by means of punched card recording, core memories and magnetic memories the size of washing machines was the rule. The first PCs lurked on the horizon, but only real utopians could imagine data processing in today’s style. 1984 by George Orwell was omnipresent, but the surveillance state was the evil to be fought, not market-dominating Internet corporations. A technical comparison with today’s computers is superfluous. What is much more important is the fact that the use of information has changed radically. Data processing at the time of the census decision was hard work and was carried out by the computer gods in white. The GDPR is still based on the considerations of the seventies. The person concerned is presented as the victim of the data holder (“responsible person”). This data holder is the anonymous administration or a data octopus, a company that does everything in its power to violate the personal rights of the data subjects. But this victim role has long since ceased to correspond to the average user. Today, the average user largely determines for himself which data he discloses and processes in his daily life. This does not mean that he really has control over it. But 90% of users behave as if they either don’t care or don’t care. Informational self-determination in today’s context means a reversal of the thoughts of the seventies. Today it is a matter of making as much data as possible public in order to get in contact with others. Anyone who now believes that this is only a story about social media such as Facebook is seriously mistaken. There are obvious reasons why people publish personal details on social platforms. The question is not WHAT you disclose this data for, but HOW intelligently this data is disclosed. I’m convinced that most of today’s Facebook users are aware that their data will continue to be used and commercially exploited. In other words, informational self-determination has made users much more generous with their data. You can neither negate this fact nor create alternative facts with laws. If HR departments systematically evaluate data from the net in order to evaluate applicants, this automatically leads to potential applicants placing data in a targeted manner. Every social media user today thinks about the benefits of his activities on these channels. This does not mean that data protection has become superfluous. However, data protection per se and of course assumes that personal data must always be protected from the evil “responsible persons” and “processors”. In fact, data protection law does not address the need for protection of individuals who make their entire data world transparent! Meanwhile, a majority of all users of free services know that they pay with their data. Data protection must take effect with all consistency if data from third parties (e.g. pictures) are freely distributed or illegally published. There must be possibilities for protection here. This means that it must be possible to consistently remove or block such content from the Internet. The current discussions about Facebook show that something is moving here. But as long as the international community offers loopholes to criminals, there is a lack of enforcement. Should a law protect people who voluntarily publish the most intimate details of themselves? What is the value of consent? Thus to the next misconception.  



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