“The pandemic is jeopardizing our democracies”

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Daniel Westman – Independent legal advisor, GDPR expert, and researcher in data protection

The Corona pandemic has had many consequences for our societies, including our attitudes to privacy and data protection. – We have recently been able to see that, as a result of the pandemic, several democratic fundamental rights are now about to be curtailed in various countries, including large and previously stable democracies. “It’s a completely wrong way to go”, says Daniel Westman, independent legal advisor, expert, and researcher in data protection / GDPR and digital media, in this interview.

Daniel Westman thinks that the heat of the general privacy debate in our Western societies has declined.

– I do not see any broad debate or criticism of an ever more intervening technology and the control that states and private companies obtain through this. Integrity debates around file sharing and FRA’s investigative opportunities flared up in Sweden a few years ago, but now it is pretty quiet.

Of course, GDPR has raised the issues in recent years.

– But the great interest here has been limited to professional actors, which consist of people who know the legislation well, who may also work with the issues and who care and think that data protection and privacy are two fundamental prerequisites for our democracies.

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This issue is no longer given the same priority in the remaining society. Furthermore, people’s right to data protection and privacy has been increasingly questioned in connection with the Corona pandemic.

– We have been able to see that many fundamental rights – and then not only in the form of data protection but also in terms of legal security and democratic principles – as a result of the pandemic are about to be curtailed in various countries, including large and stable democracies.

Daniel Westman then refers not only to direct restrictions in people’s everyday lives but also to the management of personal protection in connection with the increased use of mobile and patient data, as well as camera data via facial recognition.

– Sweden, however, has done well so far and has not introduced any unnecessary legislation, he concludes.

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