MIL-OSI Translation: Hansjörg Durz: “Data is knowledge – knowledge is power”


MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –

Source: CDU CSU

Dear Mr President! Dear colleagues! Ladies and gentlemen! Knowledge is power – with this thesis the British philosopher and statesman Francis Bacon ushered in a new age of science almost exactly 400 years ago. At the heart of Bacon’s scientific method was the systematic collection of all available data. Not only did he see this as a new form of acquiring knowledge, but above all he saw power in it.

It remains to be seen whether the founders of today’s internet giants oriented themselves towards Francis Bacon. But anyone who thinks that today’s distribution of power in the digital world was in the spirit of this philosopher is wrong; because the Briton recognized the dangers of knowledge as an instrument of power even in his day. In order to counter these dangers, he advocated the self-determination of the individual.

But what does self-determination look like in today’s digital world? Any Internet user can answer the question. Since a court decision in the spring of last year, for example, millions of cookie consents have popped up every day in Germany, usually to the displeasure of those who just want to look something up quickly. At best, self-determination is possible in theory. But we want real self-determination in practice.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU – Dr. Konstantin von Notz [BÜNDNIS 90 / DIE GRÜNEN]: You could have done it for a long time!)

But if you want real data sovereignty, you have to enable citizens to read information, understand what they are doing on the Internet and make conscious decisions. The data strategy shows very specific solutions here. With a data trustee, people can centrally determine how their data is handled in the network and then surf the web with confidence. The many digital identities that each of us have could also be managed in a uniform manner. If you count how many user accounts you have, you will quickly come up with a number that you would not have suspected at first glance. Whether at the bank, with mailing services, with social networks, with the railway, with the digital submission of tax returns, we maintain user accounts everywhere. In 2020, every German citizen had an average of around 200 different user accounts. I suspect that not all 200 T & Cs and privacy statements have been read, and that’s where the problem lies.

The data trustee can be used to organize which company and which institutions may use the user data and how. A data trustee does not necessarily have to be a government agency. Non-profit organizations or companies must also be able to offer this service. Diversity must be possible. However, trust is central. Who do I entrust my data to? That is a question that every citizen should decide for himself. However, abuse must be avoided. Therefore, there must be a golden rule for every provider: a data trustee is a neutral authority, and a trustee does not sell off citizen data.

(Applause from Deputy Mario Brandenburg [Südpfalz] [FDP] – Manuel Höferlin [FDP]: That’s right! Right!)

The promotion of data trustees that this data strategy envisages, however, also has implications for the structure of the digital economy; because the core of many digital services is often the same: an advertising-financed business model. In order for this to generate substantial profit, data about the consumer is collected and offers are personalized. As much time as possible should be spent on a platform or with a product. The customer should be bound ever more closely. The data trustee can help to make the change of providers and the multihoming of services significantly easier and thus avoid the log-in effect, the very close connection between the user and a provider. Citizen and consumer sovereignty are combined here, and that is a good thing.

In the data strategy, however, not only the goal of establishing data trustees is formulated, but also outlines the steps we have to take to achieve this: First, we will initiate an ideas competition for data trustees in order to guarantee the widest possible variety of models. Second, we will set up a funding program to develop and test innovative data trustees. Third, we will create a specific legal framework for data management systems.

A first important step on this path has already been taken with the adoption of the TTDSG in the cabinet yesterday. In this legislature, we will enable data trustees and strengthen the citizens’ data sovereignty.

(Manuel Höferlin [FDP]: But that’s not there anymore!)

Data is knowledge. Knowledge is power. The data trustee is the central concept for strengthening self-determination, for regaining power in the network; because it must lie with the citizen in good democratic tradition.

Many Thanks.

(Applause from the CDU / CSU and from Saskia Esken [SPD])


EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.

MIL Translation OSI