Top EU Privacy Campaigner Says He Wants Lots Of Money For 'None Of Your Business'

from the noyb-is-no-newb dept

We’ve just written about the Austrian privacy activist Max Schrems, and his continuing battle with Facebook. But it seems Schrems now wants to take things up a notch. He’s hoping to found a new privacy organization called the “European Center for Digital Rights”, with the domain name of – “none of your business“:

The focus of noyb will be on commercial data processing by corporations. Corporate practices are rarely transparent. Internet users are commonly confronted with unlawful practices, agreements and terms and conditions. Their data is linked and sold behind the back of these consumers. Phenomena like big data, profiling and selective targeting are common practice today and will only grow in the future.

Noyb’s weapon of choice will be a new EU privacy law:

In May 2018, the new EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force. It includes massive improvements in the area of privacy enforcement for users. NGOs like noyb will be able to directly take actions for consumers with the relevant authorities and in court, e.g. through class action suits or strategic group action.

It’s not all legal actions. Noyb also plans to publish guidelines and best practices to give advice to businesses on how to follow the new GDPR rules to avoid being sued. It also plans to create new digital tools for privacy complaints and privacy inquiries, as well as whistleblowing tools. In the short term, these are some possible goals (pdf):

TECHNICAL: Testing Environment for Apps. As an initial technical research project the organization could review the actual data use by the most popular smartphone apps and thereby develop a testing environment for consistent testing of apps. Existing research have e.g. shown that some apps access GPS locations or contacts beyond what is strictly necessary for the function used [an important aspect of the GDPR]. The generated evidence could lead to rankings, complaints or legal procedures.

LEGAL: Smartphone Operating Systems. Apple and Google dominate the smartphone market. Their policies are based on a “take it or leave it” basis and allow these companies significant access to the most personal device of most consumers. Enforcement actions in this area could have a substantial impact in the daily life of almost every citizen.

By the end of 2018 noyb hopes to have achieved the following:

Cooperation with at least five major privacy NGOs, five consumer rights organizations, five universities or research institutions and five hacker institutions/spaces.

Basic network of lawyers at least in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and the US.

Support of 10 small external enforcement actions through the enforcement fund.

In the long-term, it has even more ambitious plans. For example, widening the scope of the noyb organization from privacy to other digital rights such as net neutrality, or related consumer rights, and to set up national NGOs in countries that currently lack local initiatives. Of course, this all requires money. Noyb estimates that it needs a minimum of €250,000 in the start-up period of 2018, while the regular operating costs will be around €500,000 per year. It is hoping a combination of sponsorship and crowdfunding will provide those amounts.

Raising money will probably be the organization’s biggest challenge. After all, Schrems has shown more than once that he can take on the biggest Internet companies and win. As with those victories, it’s important to note that the legal framework that noyb intends to use may be purely European, but the global nature of the Internet and the companies that serve it means the impacts of any successful legal actions are likely to be felt worldwide.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or, and +glynmoody on Google+

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Comments on “Top EU Privacy Campaigner Says He Wants Lots Of Money For 'None Of Your Business'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

“Raising money will probably be the organization’s biggest challenge. After all, Schrems has shown more than once that he can take on the biggest Internet companies and win.”

Did something get edited out? Why would the ability to win against big Internet companies go along with raising money as their biggest challenge?

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