The concept of privacy in the space between land and sea

The concept of privacy in the space between land and sea
What can you really do in the presence of Big Tech? Is it necessary to actively reject its intrusiveness, is it necessary to passively suffer its excessive power or is it necessary to seek a balanced integration that safeguards the pillars of democracies, privacy and national sovereignties? A possible approach is suggested by the words of Ginevra Cerrina Feroni, Vice President of the Guarantor for the Protection of Personal Data:

Faced with the overwhelming power of big tech, reality must be acknowledged. It is a fact of our time, but every fact must be able to correspond to a normative framework.

Realism, pragmatism, but without any step backwards. The concept is that of Schmitt's “great space”, a contrast between land and sea where the Net is metaphorically identified in the sea, in its anarchic movement in search of new spaces and where the earth represents the National States. The coast is a continuous wave movement that must be redefined over time, trying to contain the sea where it is dangerous, but knowing that it cannot oppose excessive resistance when the pressure becomes stronger.

The large space between land and sea

Today the strength is all on the side of the Big Tech which, thanks to the strength of data, have more reliable and refined forecasting tools in their hands:

The competition is played, and won, due to the information asymmetry to the advantage of Big Tech: the information assets that they are able to concentrate through their galaxies of applications, services and digital products determines an unbridgeable gap that eliminates any competitive perspective.

An informative patrimony that beats even that of the fiscal, health and statistical administrations of the States for detail and updating, until the 21st century the only holders of public data. Today the information flow has replaced the database, the software, increasingly sophisticated and intelligent, has been able to dynamically intercept otherwise imperceptible variations in lives, habits, tastes and trends and which, unlike what happens to the Government , users share spontaneously. And from all this, above all, it is able to derive reliable forecasts, based on simultaneous analyzes of realistic profiles, being able to virtually build the exact model of the social fabric of reference.

Hence the importance of sovereignty of the data. Managing data ownership, in fact, means acting upstream of the power of Big Tech by removing the lifeblood that feeds the coffers from them. National sovereignty is at stake, but also market and geopolitical balances: in short, there is a large part of our future around data. Those who still reduce the concept of "privacy" to mere formality, in short, have valid arguments available to change their mind and put much more attention on this hot front on which the freedoms, rights and possibilities of the next generations will be defined.

The upper hand of the "technopolio" for everything concerning cybersecurity, cloud computing / storage, CDN (content delivery / distribution network) and analytics in strategic sectors, is not without consequences, also because they are traditionally the prerogative of sovereignty.

What nature must then the States recognize to these private subjects who do not act as common distributors of assets and resources towards the Governments, but as real direct operators, able to contain, manage, read (use?) a portentous wealth of knowledge made available to them by necessity by the States themselves.

Considering the size of these entities, as well as the scope of the functions that play and their capillary permeation in society, are Big Tech perhaps to be considered new subjects of international law?

Big Tech: reject or integrate?

The question is legitimate, in short: Big Tech must be "integrated" into the law, offering them the dignity of sovereign entity - even if limited - or further rejected this hypothesis? Should we build embankments against this sea, or should the undertow be welcomed knowing that it will be possible to let it flow out afterwards? According to Ginevra Cerrina Feroni, there is no choice: "In fact, the States must come to terms with them, entering into agreements and conventions precisely in order to make use of their unavoidable, irrevocable activities". Land and sea must find promiscuity, allowing the sea to invade the earth to the extent that the earth can soil the sea.

How can the State, which on the one hand is bound in an indissoluble and vital close with the Big Tech - and thus revealing all its impotence or inadequacy in the digital dimension - to claim, on the other, claiming to see the honor of taxation prerogatives, repression of crime, data protection, in a space that inevitably escapes physical boundaries of jurisdiction, to the very principle of territoriality?

Fundamental questions, in short, on which to build a new geopolitics based on data management. And a reflection that closes with gratitude towards the GDPR, the cornerstone of a fundamental construct for protecting the most delicate parts of democracies and freedom:

The European GDPR was a fundamental step and a cornerstone of adjustment. By giving full effectiveness to the clauses and mechanisms of this instrument, with which Europe has tried to claim its own hegemony, at least legal over digital [13], the structural weakness of the individual states could in some way be compensated by the power of the Union in the confrontation with and between China and the United States, all the more necessary today at the dawn of the disintegration of the Privacy Shield.

We start from here, between land and sea, on that never defined (never definable) border in which contamination is necessarily totalizing. The very definition of this boundary is a contradiction in terms, if not for limited periods, if not with a view to continuous revision. The important thing is to create safe stakes and harbors. And this is what needs to be done to be able to take refuge in democracies, freedoms, rights and the most precious things that the last decades may have produced: letting the sea enter, but without it being able to bring its own uncontrollable strength.

Source: Guarantor Privacy

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