The Rights of Digital Citizens

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Contributed by the Research Platform for Human Rights in the European Context

Panel discussion with Peter Hustinx (data protection supervisor of the EU), Bernhard Hoetzl ( Hannes Tretter (expert for data protection, director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights, deputy chairman of the management board of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency) and Waltraut Kotschy (expert on information privacy, former head of the Austrian Data Protection Commission, project manager of TWINNING).


The Rights of Digital Citizens. Facebook, Google and Cyber Crimes:

New Challenges to EU Fundamental Rights in the Digital Era


After introducing the speakers, Hannes Trettner presents the new “Yearbook Human rights 2011″, titled “Nothing to hide-Nothing to fear” to the audience, which is a cooperation between the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Human Rights and the German Institute of Human Rights in Berlin. Among other things it deals with the new challenges in a digital world.

The digital era is our daily reality and is affecting everybody today. The internet is a global driver for positive developments, but it also has a profound influence on our rights as citizens. The developments are not subject to democratic decisions and are extremely relevant. Facebook, Google and Cybercrime are symbols and trends of these developments. Peter Hustinx stresses the need for global standards.

New developments in the digital era are not subject to democratic decisions.

The business models of facebook and co. rely on dealing with the data of their users. The users need to push the big players to use their personal data in accordance with data protection rules. Waltraud Kotschy therefore calls for “ethical marketing”, where the companies don’t use all the data they collect. She also points to the problem of the private abuse of private data in eg. Facebook (eg. cybermobbing).

Identity Theft and Character Assasinations

Bernhard Hoetzl, head of, presents the corporate perspective on data protection issues. For his company, data protection is not the real issue, but the more urgent topics are copyright, people protection laws, identity theft and character assasinations.

Hannes Trettner is irritated by companies like Facebook and the European Union. He asks, if it really is necessary to store data from mobile phones and internet usage of people in advance for crime fighting reasons? Isn’t that creating a fearful atmosphere in the public?



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