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Summary: The Culture of Privacy and Data Protection in the EU and the U.S.

When we speak of "data protection", what we mainly mean is the protection of individuals' privacy. But what does "privacy" or "the right to informational self-determination" actually stand for in various European countries and in the U.S. (where tremendous amounts of European's personal data are storedand processed)? Do we protect the same values and resources when we protect individual privacy? Or are there significant differences in the cultures defining what is or ought to be "private" information?What value is attached to the right to control one's own personal data in the individual EU member states and the U.S.? How do we balance the individual's right to privacy with the sovereign authoritiesof the state?These are questions to be discussed when the EU General Data Protection Regulation is finalised, especially as one of the regulation's objectives is the EU- wide harmonisation of data protectionlegislation. STIFTUNG DATENSCHUTZ invited experts from various European countries and the U.S. to Frankfurt to share their views.

Session I: International Perceptions of Data Privacy: Differences and Similarities

The German Perspektive: Prof. Dr. Michael Ronellenfitsch (Video)

Prof. Ronellenfitsch studied law and gained the doctorial degree at the Universityof Heidelberg. Then he worked in the public service of the state Baden- Wuerttemberg. After his postdoctoral lecture qualification (Habilitation) in 1981 Prof. Ronellenfitsch taught law at the universities of Cologne, Saarbrucken and Bonn, had a chair for public law at "Freie Universität" Berlin and since 1993 at Eberhard Karls University in Tübingen. There he is still director of the research centre for planning, traffic, technology and data protection. Prof. Dr. Michael Ronellenfitsch was elected as the Hessian Data Protection Commissioner by the Hessian Parliament on 18 September 2003. He was three times unanimously re-elected to this position, at last in 2014. Prof. Ronellenfitsch wrote about 60 books, some 300 reports and among others, he is co-editor of the law journals "Verwaltungsarchiv", "Recht der Datenverarbeitung" as well as "Straßenverkehrsrecht".

The French Perspektive: Prof. William Gilles, LL.D. (Video)

Doctor of Laws, William Gilles is a tenured associate professor (HDR) at the Sorbonne Law School (University Paris 1 Pantheon-Sorbonne) where he is director of the Bachelor of Public administration and director of the Master's degree in Digital Law. He is the cofounder and president of IMODEV (the Institut du Monde et du Développement pour la Bonne Governance Publique), an international academic network that analyzes public policies in the digital society, especially regarding fundamental rights. He is also the director of the Chair of the Americas of the University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, member of the IRJS (Institut de Recherche Juridique de la Sorbonne), and member of the board of the Sorbonne Law School. His research focuses on open government, open data, digital law, eGovernement, smart cities, and public finance.

The Estonian Perspective: Ivar Tallo, PhD (Video)

Dr. Ivar Tallo is one of the founders and a Member of the Supervisory Board of the e-Governance Academy. In the latter role he has promoted the use of information and communication technologiesto public sector leaders in Central and Eastern European countries, the Balkans, the CIS, Arab countries and Africa. He has given e-government lectures to the presidents of Kazakhstanand Armenia, the cabinets and ministers of Uzbekistan, Moldova, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Northern Cyprus, Palestine, Namibia and Rwanda, and speakers and MPs from Macedonia, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan. Ivar Tallo has been a Member of Riigikogu (Estonian Parliament) and Member of theParliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. He has also worked as a lecturer on public policy and public administration at Tartu University. Mr Tallo is the author of the Basic Principles of Information Policy of Estonia, Code of Conduct for Civil Servants and co-author of the Public Information Act.

The U.S.-American Perspective: Prof. Marc Rotenberg (Video)

Prof. Rotenberg is President and Executive Director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), an independent, non-profit research center based in Washington, DC that focuses public attention on emerging privacy and related human rights issues. He teaches information privacy and open government law at Georgetown University Law Center. He has testified before the US Congress on more than 60 occasions. He testified before the 9-11 Commission on "Security and Liberty." He has also spoken before the European Parliament several times and given invited lectures in more than 30 countries and at a dozen judicial conferences. Mr. Rotenberg is coauthor (with Anita L. Allen) of Privacy Law and Society (West 2016), and Privacy in the Modern Age: The Search for Solutions (The New Press 2015). He has written more than 50 amicus briefs on privacy and civil liberties for federal and state courts. He has submitted comments in about 100 federal agency rulemakings and similar agency proceedings. 

Watch the Panel on Session 1 (Video)

Session II: Public Privacy? The Shift of Borders and the Implications of Digitization

Prof. Dr. Beate Roessler: Privacy as a Value for Democratic Societies (Video)

Beate Roessler is a Professor of Practical Philosophy at the University of Amsterdam; from 2003 to 2010 she also taught as Socrates-Professor for the Foundations of Humanism at Leiden University. She formerly taught philosophy at the Free University, Berlin, Germany, and at the University of Bremen, Germany. In 2003/4 she was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg) in Berlin; in November 2011 she was a fellow at the Center for Agency, Value, and Ethics at Macquarie University, Sydney, and in 2015 a two-month fellow at the University of Melbourne, Law School. She is a co-editor of the European Journal of Philosophy; a co-director of the research program Philosophy and Public Affairs (Amsterdam School of Cultural Analysis, ASCA) and, at present, head of the department of philosophy.

Prof. Dr. Oliver Zoellner: Posting Your Childrenʻs Pictures on Social Media - On Autonomy and Choice in a Publicly Private Realm (Video)

Prof. Zoellner He is professor of media research, media sociology, digital media ethics, and international communication at Stuttgart Media University. As an honorary professor he also teaches at the University of Düsseldorf, Germany. From 1997 to 2004 he was director of the market and media research department of Deutsche Welle, Germany's international broadcaster. Zoellner holds a master's degree (1993) and a doctorate (1996) from the University of Bochum. He is co-founder and joint director of the Institute for Digital Ethics at Stuttgart Media University.

Dr. Julia Powles: The Map is Not the Territory: Preoccupations of a Connected Planet

Dr. Powles is a legal researcher, cross-appointed by the Faculty of Law and the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge. Her research focuses on the law and politics of technology, including internet regulation, data protection, privacy, and intellectual property. She is currently working on projects on cloud computing, cybercrime, and data control in the Internet of Things. She is a regular contributor to the Guardian and Wired, and previously worked at the World Intellectual Property Organization and in the Australian court and tribunal system. 

For a link to a video of her talk, please contact us at mailstiftungdatenschutzorg.

Session III: Perspectives on National Policies

Prof. Niko Haerting: German Expectations (Video)

Prof. Niko Haerting is founding partner of HÄRTING Rechtsanwälte, a leading boutique law firm in Berlin, specialised on media and techologie issues, IT and IP law as well as data protection and privacy. He is also a law professor at the Hochschule für Wirtschaft and Recht (HWR) and chief editor of the magazine "Privacy in Germany (PinG)". Moreover, he is one of the editors of "Computer und Recht (CR)". Amongst his numerous publications, he has written a book on internet law. The 5th edition of "Internetrecht" was published in 2014.

Dr. Alexander Dix, LL.M. (Lond.): European Solutions (Video)

Dr. Alexander Dix, LL.M. (Lond.) is Vice-Chair of the European Academy for Freedom of Information and Data Protection in Berlin. He has more than 30 years of practical experience in Data Protection and Freedom of Information. From 1998 to 2005 he was Commissioner for Data Protection and Access to Information in Brandenburg. He was then elected as Berlin Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, a post which he held until January 2016. From 2005 to 2015 he chaired the International Working Group on Data Protection in Telecommunications (also known as "Berlin Group") and represented the German Länder in the Art. 29 Working Party of European Data Protection Authorities. Dr. Dix has published extensively on transborder data flows, privacy in global networks and freedom of information. He is co-editor of the Jahrbuch für Informationsfreiheit und Informationsrecht and member of the Editorial Board of the European Data Protection Law Review.

Prof. Dr. Henry Farrell: American Proposals (Video)

Prof. Farrell is associate professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University. He has previously been a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, assistant professor at George Washington University and the University of Toronto, and a senior research fellow at the Max-Planck Project Group in Bonn, Germany. He works on a variety of topics, including trust, the politics of the Internet and international and comparative political economy. His recent book, The Political Economy of Trust: Interests, Institutions and Inter-Firm Cooperation, was published in 2009 by Cambridge University Press. In addition he has authored or co-authored 25 academic articles, as well as several book chapters and numerous non-academic publications. 

Watch the Panel on Session III (Video)

Moderation: Scott W. Stevenson

Scott is an editor for the German language service of the Reuters news agency in Berlin. After receiving a medical degree from the University of Essen, he enrolled in graduate school for journalism in Mainz. From 2006 to 2016 he published the blog "USA Erklärt" which attempted to explain America to Germans and was nominated for the Grimme Online Award. His hobbies includeprogramming in 8-bit assembler and FORTH.

© Pictures: Uwe Dettmar, Frankfurt


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