Is our online future worth sacrificing our privacy and security?

re:publica 2015
Politics & Society


Many business models and platforms powering digital life operate at the expense of privacy. Multinational companies like Google and Facebook already make billions, and are exploring new ways to monetize personal data. But this doesn't seem to be illegal, as users happily pay the price for 'free' services. On the other hand, groups willing to break laws are targeting our online security - including criminals looking for money and governments interested in surveillance and espionage. Are these two issues, privacy and security, jeopardizing Europe’s online future and digital culture?


The Internet is a pretty remarkable thing – particularly the free and open services that we can all enjoy. Unfortunately, most of the products and services marketed as 'free' are far from it. And what's only recently become clear is the value of data as a kind of digital currency.

Giant companies like Facebook and Google have built empires using the data provided to them by their customers - customers that have never given them any money. People use their personal data to pay for digital services. Whenever you agree to a terms of use policy or an end-user license agreement to use a "free" service, you're paying for it with your privacy. And now companies are cooperating with one another like never before, finding new business models and new ways to monetize people's personal data. However, there doesn't seem to be anything illegal in that, as end users happily accept any cost to get their 'free' services. On the other hand, groups that target our online security are completely willing to break the law. This includes both the criminals that launch attacks to make money, and the governments that do it for surveillance and espionage purposes.

Addressing concerns about privacy and security aren't easy, but they're too important to ignore. Here in Europe there's a lot of talk about integration and the benefits offered by a single digital marketplace. I'm an optimist, but I understand that such integration will also pose new challenges and expose us to unforeseen risks.

Companies are talking to each other about how to make more money at the expense of people's privacy. Online criminals are talking to each other about how to develop the digital threat landscape. We need to start talking about privacy and security if we want to see a healthy digital culture develop. And we need to start the conversation now.


Presented by f-secure.

Mittwoch, 6. Mai 2015 - 11:45 bis 12:15


Chief Research Officer