The harvesting by Cambridge Analytica of 87 million Facebook profiles, of which 2.7 million European, to manipulate elections, is the latest wake-up call that highlights the paramount importance and relevance of an up-to-date European data protection framework.
Following a public debate in the European Parliament’s plenary sitting, Viviane Reding, former Commissioner for Justice and Fundamental Rights, who tabled the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), commented: “Europe points the way to maintain trust in the digital society. From 25 May onwards, the GDPR puts citizens back in control of their personal data, ensures a stronger enforcement of rules and safeguards pluralism. Europe not only delivers, but also sets global standards.
Who wants to live in a society where algorithms know you better than friends, family or partners, where you are continuously tracked, profiled and spied upon, where your political preferences can be bended to the will of the highest bidder, where citizens are the product? 9 out of 10 Europeans want none of it. The GDPR will put an end to the gold-rush in the digital Far West.
The same lobbyists and national governments who tried to suffocate this reform 6 years ago, now welcome it as a lifeline for democracy. This is great news! But let’s not be naive. The tech giants will have to walk the talk - or face the consequences.
At a time when China is too intrusive, and America too permissive, the European model where innovation and respect for fundamental rights go hand in hand, must prevail.”
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