Wir reden (nicht) über Datenschutz

Marcel Mehlmann


Well, this is my first try at publishing a talk of mine and especially in this format. So feel free to send me your feedback by writing to me via mastodon @mzumquadrat@fosstodon.org

The headline of this talk is: We do (not) talk about data protection.

This headline is a jab at the general tenor to talk about data protection while not really talking about it. It is the goal of this talk to provide a minimal understanding about why data protection is necessary and what data protection entails.

This talk was held via BigBlueButton (an online conferencing tool) and was recorded for educational purposes.

This is me. This slide contains some information about myself regarding my employment. Since 2016 i work for something called KiM-Projekt (a governmental research project to increase the quality of lecture) and and since 2017 i am the technical director at tinyCampus (a sub project within KiM). While being the technical director at tinyCampus qualifies me to talk about data protection, my ability to contantly grumble about too little data protection qualifies me even more.

Here i asked my audience about their mindset regarding data protection. They could choose betwen "I take data protection very seriously", "I take data protection serious but could do more" and "I have no clue about data protection or do not care about it". The majority of people picked the second answer "I take data protection serious but could do more"

On this slide i asked my audience to send me pictures of obscure stuff found on their desks. I told them a story about me being very interested in obscure things around me (which i am) and since i would not be able to look for obscure stuff at the contract venue, they could help me out.

My goal with this was to have people take pictures of stuff while adding their gps coordinates to the picture and upload these pictures to my website where i would be able to look at the metadata.

Why data protection? This was a quote i found on reddit by some user i forgot. Since i do not have access to the original english quote anymore i try to translate my german translation back again to english: "I do need privacy, not because what i do is questionable but your judgement and intentions are". But what do i mean when i talk about questionable judgement and intentions?

To answer this question we have to take a look at Amsterdam. And unfortunately at 7 slides into the presentation i have to refer to the Nazis in order to make a point. Amsterdam startet their census in 1851 in order to better distribute resources. People were happy and teh census soon contained information about the profession, relationship status and religion. In 1936 Amsterdam installed a modern card system in order to better manage the census data, they even updated the census in 1939. In 1940 the Nazis gained access to this system. A system which was created for good was then used to find, capture and kill all jewish people in Amsterdam.

Nearly 100.000 jewish people were deported and killed. Nobody had something to hide. Everyone was convinced that the census data would only be used for good. Obtainining, storing and controling data means power.

You could argue that this is a problem of older times. But it is still a problem today. Even in our "enlightened society" information like sexual or political orientation can change how you are treated or even lead to imprisonment.

The second aspect of why we need data protection is the aspect of value. Here i quote myself: "The biggest PR stunt Google, Facebook and Co. pulled through was to tell us that they have to be with us every day." What do i mean with this quote?

Before further explaining my quoote i asked the audience to estimate how much money the ad industry is investing in 2020. (Here i used the quiz function of BigBlueButton)

Lo and behold, it is estimated that in 2020 the ad industry is investing around 660 billion dollars into the market. A lot of money for a few ads on a website. To better understand why they are putting so much money into it we have to take a short look into the history of ads.

In the early days most ads were static. A site owner would rent out layout space on his website and ad provider would sent him some pictures to put there. If you as a visitor would click on one of these pictures you would be redirected to for example a shop and the website owner would earn a few cents. In order to gain some serious amount of money with it a lot of clicks were necessary.

Today ads are dynamic. Instead of adding a static image to a website, owner rent out not only layoutspaces but access to these spaces as well. Why? Because in the old days ads often were highly unrelevant. On a website for beard products the ads were often for certain care products. Which makes only a little sense because people who were on a website for beard products were most of the time looking for something specific or did not need to be convinced to spend money for it.

Wouldn't it be nice if i would see ads for beard products while surfing on a different website because the system knows that i haven't shaved for a long time?

To demonstrate the huge benefit of dynamic ads i created screenshot of me searching how to compile my own linux kernel.