Myths of the free flow of data

Myths of the free flow of data

Blog post 3 from Buenos Aires and the WTO Ministerial. We are still in the run-up phase, but activities are intensifying..Read this post about busting the myths of the free flow of data and more!

Whilst a Norwegian activist was denied entry to Argentina last night and roughly sent on the first plane out of the country before lawyers had time to act, Buenos Aires is filling up with delegations, security staff and police.

I now have my official badge and should be allowed entry to various events. The invitations are pouring in from an Arabic Prince to numerous business get togethers. I will pick my events carefully. 

Free flow of data - correcting common misunderstandings

Yesterday we had a really interesting workshop on e-commerce, but specifically on the free flow of data part of the e-commerce discussions. 

It is really important to take note that the free flow of data is not the same as the free flow of information. You will hear the two inter-changed as if they were the same. This is what the proponents of e-commerce would like us all to feel, but it is far from the truth. Commonly we regard the internet as an information zone, open to most people with an internet connection. The internet was heralded as the place that put us all equal. It is therefore useful for the proponents of the free flow of data to conflate this idea with that of the free flow of information. They are wrong, and they are manipulating us all by doing it. 

In addition, the free flow of data, does not equal the free and equal access to data. Even though something flows "freely", it does not mean that it is accessible by us all. On the contrary, right now Big Tech own the vast majority of the world's combined data. Whatever data that will flow, will mainly flow right into their pockets. Not yours. Not mine. Not the local SME - but theirs. Giving them again even more power and influence.

UNI has been very vocal on highlighting these false truths, and at the seminar yesterday, the participants could only confirm that we are right to do so. We must raise awareness to the importance of data, data flows, and data ownership, and we all must be very cautious about letting our governments sell out on our privacy rights in the name of trade.