The digital annexation of the individual and our personal surroundings is beginning to develop some nasty traits. Chairman Jan Smits of the Brainport Center for Technology and Law does not believe we should give in to this so easily. The tech sector around Eindhoven could also lend a helping hand. Better still, there is no region better equipped to weaken the grasp of the overlords of algorithms, such as Facebook and Google, than the Brainport region.
Smits, Professor of Law & Technology at TU/e by day, even suggests that we consider a revenue model:
“It would be doubly advantageous if we could resist this call, which is undoubtedly becoming stronger, to maintain the monetization of a private space in the digital world.”
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In a blog post for Brabant Kennis, Smit names Brabant “the first stop for the prevention of the annexation of privacy.” According to Smits, the region has the knowledge of all of the technologies which play a role in this field. And it is time to put that knowledge into practice:
Imagine the scenario: the VDL Groep builds self-driving cars using the knowledge from the Automotive Campus in Helmond from which no data can be transmitted (without permission) to any database. Prodrive designs chips for the Ampleye cameras that inherently respect privacy. NXP makes the embedded chips for durable appliances, such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. ASML manufactures chip machines from which, ideally, only chips containing digital privacy protection can be made. Philips Lighting produces LED lighting, which Harald Haas has shown to transmit data at great speed; the leakage of data signals to the outside environment where they are intended to work is much simpler with light than with radio waves.
The Data-Science Center Eindhoven develops database systems and technologies where Wisdom of the Crowd can be used with respect for digital rights by the means of an integrity measure. For this we need smart algorithms, user-friendly encryption, legal and regulatory knowledge, but all that we can do. The start-up Quiver has devised software which allows the sender of a file to control what happens to the file even after it has been sent, and perhaps that can also be applied to personal data.
Smits’ article is part of the Brabant Kennis’ ‘Slim Brabant’ blog series [Dutch]. A number of experts in the field are taking to the series to ignite discussions on the impact of digital technologies on Brabant’s economy and society. The phenomenon of continued digitalisation is creating new challenges and questions for Brabant. The blog series runs alongside a trend survey conducted by Brabant Kennis, which should provide information for the review of the Digitale Agenda van Brabant, 2013-2020.
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