eco symposium “Banning, storing, blocking – Germany’s digital border fences”
While new business concepts are taking over the internet every day and innovative online services are expanding continuously, there are voices which do not realize the advantages of the world wide web, thinking of it mainly as a hotbed of criminal elements. These voices are exactly those who call for more surveillance and data preservation as well as the banning and blocking of unwelcome content. However, measures such as the once more discussed data preservation not only damage the credibility of internet providers, but also infringe upon the fundamental rights of data privacy and the private sphere as well as the privacy of online communication.
Should we give up on these liberties for a questionable increase in security? How will we be able to garuantee comprehensive data protection while having excessive claims for transparency at the same time?
These and other questions were discussed with experts from the fields of politics and economy during the eco symposium “Banning, storing, blocking – Germany’s digital border fences” on the 5th of March.
The main topics of the debate were data preservation, big data and financial blocking, which is currently being discussed as a possible countermeasure in the context of illegal gambling.
Michael Rotert CEO of eco warned that the storage of traffic data in the context of digital communication, unfounded and without suspicion, would leave citizens with a vague feeling of being controlled. The recent exposure of wiretapping practices by intelligence agencies has clearly shown that having faith in digital communication is of vital importance regarding the usage of the internet and is, therefore, a basic requirement for civic as well as economic achievement in connection with internet. If the legislator wants to preserve this foundation, he should take these considerations into account, according to Rotert.
The panelists Wolfgang Kubicki vice chairman of the German Liberal Party, head of the independent federal centre for data protection and data protection officer of Schleswig-Holstein Dr. Thilo Weichert, Christina Kampmann (Social Democrats) and Tabea Rößner (Green Party), both members of the Federal Parliament and agreed upon the fact that controlling or dealing with big data will be a big challenge in the future and transparency regarding the handling of data has to be a priority.
Barbara Friedrich from the German Federal Ministry of Finance emphasized in her keynote speech “Control of financial flows from illegal gambling” that cooperation between banks is essential in order to prevent illegal gambling. Similar to the BaFin (German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority), gambling authorities can stop or freeze the financial flows. Moreover, Friedrich pointed out that there is still a long way to go and that this measure can only be applied to the respective national market in which the corresponding accounts are maintained and conspicuous activities are reported by the banks.
The following panel discussion unveiled the problems regarding applicability and feasiblity of financial blocking. Sebastian Fairhurst, head of Public Policy Germany, Santander Consumer Bank AG, indicated that it is difficult for internationally operating banks when regional or national regulating schemes like the German Gambling Contract interfere with internationally interlocked payment transactions. Due to the free payment transactions within the European Union financial flows are simply not limited to the regional scope. Christian Chmiel, expert for payment security and CEO of Web Shield Ltd. explained the complexity of single transactions and referred to the fact that financial blocking is just not feasible for many methods of payment. Finally, Joakim Marstrander, head of Legal and Tax at Deloitte Norway, exemplified with the example of Norway, that financial blocking can easily be circumvented through the involvement of third party payment providers. In the meantime, even the Norwegian gambling authority had to admit the failure of this measure.
The problems related to financial blocking in connection with data-protection laws already observed by Thilo Weichert late last year were yet another aspect of the vivid discussion which brought the eco symposium “Banning, storing, blocking – Germany’s digital border fences” to an end.
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