↑ Regulation

Expectation of privacy from the state

The GDPR only addresses privacy concerns related to data processing by the private sector and not by individual EU member states. With the internet being a global network (driven by established interests), laws regarding for example, digital fingerprinting by law enforcement and intelligence agencies, may develop completely differently from one country to another regardless of raised concerns at the EU level as to the compatibility of such activities with human rights standards.

  • Social media shift the boundaries of what counts as private and public space, creating anxieties about the very visible and seemingly permanent nature of social media activity. Given the long history of disproportionate surveillance among marginalised people and activists by law enforcement through practices such as profiling, infiltration and other covert policing tactics, the question is what is new and different about social media that may risk aggravating these inequalities. With not enough understandable information about how monitoring tools are used by the police, we cannot effectively assess the risks of discriminatory practices and targeting of minorities.

  • Social media can produce evidence in some cases, but data mining fails to capture the complexity of human relationships, and can sometimes distort the interpretations. It is important to make sure that social media data is not misused or misinterpreted in the pursuit of justice.

Both Evanna Hu (Responsible Data Concerns with Open Source Intelligence, Evanna Hu, November 2016) and Millie Graham Wood (Social media intelligence, the wayward child of open source intelligence, Millie Graham Wood, December 2016) made a case by stating that social media do not easily fit into either the category of public or private and argue that it is instead a pseudo-private space, where there is an expectation of privacy from the state. Millie Graham Wood, Legal Officer at Privacy International, proposes making a distinction between Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) and Social Media Intelligence (SOCMINT).

  • OSINT is intelligence collected from publicly available sources, including the internet, newspapers, radio, television, government reports and professional and academic literature.

  • SOCMINT can be defined as “the analytical exploitation of information available on social media networks”.

Unfair competition

Data is increasingly a focus of technology competition (Big data: Bringing competition policy to the digital era, OECD, November 2016). And academics and some policy makers, especially in Europe, are considering whether big internet companies like Google and Facebook might use their data resources as a barrier to new entrants and innovation. Who controls what data could be the next worldwide regulatory focus because monopolies could threaten privacy.

e-Privacy Regulation

A proposal for an e-Privacy Regulation (ePR) to complement the GDPR was published in January 2017 (New e-Privacy rules need improvements to help build trust, EDRi, March 2017). It seeks to add more clarity and legal certainty for individuals and businesses by providing specific rules related to freedoms in the online environment.