by Robert Muggah & Louise Marie Hurel
Council on Foreign Relations
May 30, 2018
The world is drowning in data. Every minute, there are roughly 456,000 tweets, 510,000 comments posted on Facebook, 999,000 Tinder swipes, 3.6 million Google searches, 4.1 million Youtube videos watched, and 103 million spam emails. The numbers are mind-boggling: every day we create over 2.5 quintillion bytes of information. A common trope is that data is the “new oil” propelling economies forward.
Individuals often share their personal data without knowing how it is used. This is dangerous. After all, governments routinely collect information in ways that can infringe on civil liberties. Private companies frequently harvest data for profit without securing explicit consent. In some countries, there has been pushback, with demands for greater data localization and data sovereignty to keep personal information from being misused.
Europeans place a particularly high value on the right to privacy both online and off. Last week, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which sets out the basic rights for how personal data of EU citizens can be used, stored and processed, entered into force. On the same day the GDPR came into effect, privacy activists filed complaints against Facebook and Google that could result in multi-billion-dollar fines.