The concluding webinar by the Cyber Security Coalition Privacy Focus Group and Beltug dived deep into what it is all about in privacy. In a fervent defense of privacy as a human right, Kati Verstrepen, president of the League for Human rights, illustrated why and how violations of human rights not only impact the dignity of individuals, but also hurt society as a whole! Indeed, many of the world’s most serious problems are caused by attacks on human rights, while respect for these rights should be the foundation of a better world.

Regarding privacy as a human right, Kati Verstrepen stated, “it’s not about hiding information, but about the right not to be controlled,” by abuse of information. An abuse that easily can be the result of cross-referencing some innocent databases, if those results are used for mass incarceration of innocent people (post-‘coup’ in Turkey). Or can result in the manipulation of people, as the impact on voting behavior by Cambridge Analytics (UK and USA). Or can distort their information access (social media’s ‘news bubbles’).

Indeed, the Covid-19 tracing apps are clear examples how solutions have to make conscious decisions to protect privacy. Kati Verstrepen clearly explained the potential/probable pitfalls of decisions made by the Belgian government!

Today’s efforts to protect privacy by compliance with the GDPR are an important step, “but we can go further.” The League calls for more resources for the Data Protection Authority, as well as more control by the data subject over the information held and used by the government and business. “We need an ethics-based thinking.”

The need for more respect of human rights is urgent, considering the multitude of examples given. For a more effective battle, the Flemish and Walloon Leagues have joined forces, but Kati Verstrepen ended with a heartfelt appeal for more support yet by individuals and companies.

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