We need stronger data safeguards after Snowden’s ‘wake-up call’, says European Commissioner

We need stronger data safeguards after Snowden’s ‘wake-up call’, says European Commissioner

European Commissioner Neelie Kroes has called for individuals and businesses to have more control and awareness of data privacy and security measures, referring to Edward Snowden’s revelations about wide scale NSA and GCHQ snooping as “a wake-up call”.

Kroes made the comments during a speech at CeBIT 2014 today in Hannover, noting that it’s particularly important to try and rebuild the trust damaged by the disclosure of the spying activity.

“It is clear that the cord connecting technology and democracy has been severed. This is bad for democracy and bad for technology and it will not be easy to stitch the two back together,” Kroes said.

Nonetheless, Kroes argues that with the Internet transforming our daily lives and set to become even more intrinsically linked to everything that we do, it is “no longer about emails” but that “to make the ‘leap of faith’ into this new world, reliability and trust is a pre-condition. But when even the phone of the Chancellor is not sacred, that trust can never again be taken for granted.”

It’s not just privacy though. Online attacks against businesses cost up to €50 million each, Kroes said, adding that 93 percent of large companies report being subjected to a cyber-attack, along with 75 percent of small businesses.

“This cannot continue. Whatever sector you’re in – online security needs to be part of your business model. A habit as automatic as locking your front door,” she said.

While Kroes argued that safeguards need to be put in place to protect businesses and individuals from online threats in a data-driven world, she also cautioned about straying too far the other way and into protectionism – what she is ultimately calling for is freedom to own and control your data in a secure way.

“This isn’t about independence or isolationism. It’s about being in control. Guaranteeing the best interest of our citizens, industry and researchers. Working together to make Europe the securest open internet space,” Kroes said. “You have the right to decide where your data goes, and the responsibility to live with your choices… Snowden gave us a wake-up call. Let’s not snooze through it. Let’s not just act shocked. Let’s not turn our back on technology.”

Featured Image Credit – Getty Images



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