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Interview "Now I've heard that one before. Let me think, where was it... Ah yes. It was Google!"
Jan Philipp Albrecht is the biggest thorn in the side of US data slurpers, and fortunately he has a good memory. The German Green MEP is the architect of Europe's new privacy regulations, GDPR, and we were discussing a rhetorical question posed to me this week in Parliament.
Question - Householder - Property - Rights - Airspace
This is the question. It's 1923 and a householder demands property rights on the airspace over their house – so they can stop aeroplanes flying over it. The purpose of the question is presumably to illustrate why giving strong personal rights can thwart progress. Why should you have property rights over the personal data that you submit to Google or Facebook?
Albrecht doesn't buy the analogy, though.
Aeroplane - Interest - Google - Interest - Data
"The aeroplane has no interest in what it's flying over. Google has every interest in your personal data, as processing that data is its business," he points out.
I caught up with Albrecht this week for a wide-ranging discussion on privacy – data portability, transatlantic data flows, anonymity and AI, and Dave Eggers' The Circle. And I quickly realised how much of a culture war it is between European and the US. Is there one bigger?
Law - Foundation - Britain - USA - European
I'd remarked how different the common law foundation expressed in Britain and the USA is to the European approach of fundamental rights.
"Yes, the GDPR is written in a continental way. The Fundamental Rights are written into European Law. And they [the USA] have to live with it," he acknowledges.
Part - US - Law - Way - Understanding
"It's part of US law now in a way – they have opened up to continental understanding of personal rights, and self-determination continental style. It's a move to each other. The Germans are the starting point for talking and they have forbidden themselves from trading it away by treaty...
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