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Communications of the ACM


CFP: Bridging the Divide: U­.S. and E.U. Perspectives on Privacy

Blog coverage from the 23rd Conference on Computers, Freedom, and Privacy (CFP), Washington, DC

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The Computer, Freedom & Privacy Conference logo

The logo of the Computers, Freedom & Privacy Conference.

Credit: CFP2013

"One after another, people were not able to get the clearance to speak here." Referring to asking US lawmakers to talk privacy with EU reps on the first panel.

The stage has been set.

While we have heard from two representatives from the EU on privacy, no one from the US government will join us for this first panel. But according to Achim Klabunde, the US has requested a seat at the table as the EU debates proposed changes to its privacy laws. The US lobbying presence on the EU law is overwhelming, and incredibly surprising to EU citizens. Luckily for EU citizens, there is LobbyPlag from Open Data City. The LobbyPlag website describes its purpose as follows: "Currently the European Parliament is about to adopt a new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Over 3,000 amendments were submitted in the committees involved with the regulation, hundreds of pages in proposals by lobby organisations had their impact on this highly volatile process. LobbyPlag aims to make this whole process transparent and comprehensible. You can compare the lobbyists requests and the committee members proposals and learn which impact the changes would have on the protection of your data."

Other panelists called for a similar resource for constituents in the US to understand the competing interests vying for a say in our privacy laws. Wouldn't it be nice? Marco Maas from Open Data City let us know that the website is open source code, so anyone who has the expertise and resources to put together something similar for US.

Achim Klabunde just told us about a debate page on a website asking whether the U.S. should introduce a privacy law like the EU's. Many of the replies voiced strong support for such a law but said that it was impossible. Even if it were introduced, Congress would mess it up.

The conversation has been robust and informative. I include below some morsels from this morning's first sessions.

Mass surveillance is not compatible with democracy and rule of law. -Jan Albrecht

If privacy is so important for business, it should be equally important for individual citizens. -Achim Klabunde

It is now clear that privacy is no longer a single sovereign issue. The threat is global and includes commercial & government. -Achim Klabunde


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