Author: James Kinsella
Here is how to fight back and declare your data independence


The US has a powerful “data advantage” worldwide.

Every time you “favourite” a Facebook comment, or retweet, or Google something, a bit of your personal life gets stored in the US or on US servers.

When you use free services on the Internet, you pay for that free stuff with the personal information YOU give those services.

But even if you don’t use Facebook or Google or Amazon, at least 80% of your personal data on the web is stored in the US or on US servers. That’s because most of the world’s data in the cloud is now stored on US servers.

Edward Snowden famously focused the world’s...

Trump is here 23 Jan 2017
Author: James Kinsella
Three ways you can fight back


Donald Trump now controls the world’s most sophisticated machinery of surveillance. His “foreign policy” has two priorities: an end to the European Union, and a strong embrace of Russia. What does that mean for your data? Nothing good. 


Millions of people protested on the streets against Trump last weekend. Here is how Europeans can protest and PROTECT their data at the same time – and remember, failing to protect European citizens’ data will soon start costing business in Europe, in fines as much as 4% of their global revenues.

Here’s what European businesses can do now:


Keep your...
It's wet under here 20 Dec 2016
Author: James Kinsella
EU-US Data Protection Umbrella already leaks  

The European Parliament was feeling pretty satisfied with itself at the end of last week – it had just passed an accord with the US to give EU citizens many of the same rights of redress that Americans have had when their personal data gets ensnared in the US government’s very large surveillance net. 

Given that some 70% of Europeans’ personal data is probably on servers controlled by US companies – and thus accessible by the US government, anywhere in the world – the EU had to bolster the EU-US Data Shield with these new protections.

But what the European Parliament giveth, the US President can taketh away, in a single...

Author: James Kinsella

Last week I sat in a crowded Brussels conference room packed with EU policy makers. You could almost smell the fear in the room about where the world was headed, but almost no one raised the obvious question: post-Brexit, post-US elections, and now with the collapse of a pro-EU Italian government, does the European Union matter anymore? 

For almost 60 years, the European Union or its predecessor has led the world in safeguarding individual citizens’ freedoms. The crowd I was addressing is particularly focused on ONE of those freedoms: privacy. The group included people who wrote the very law designed to guarantee citizens’ privacy in the digital age, the pioneering General Data...

Watch your backdoor 02 Dec 2016
Author: James Kinsella
‘Snooper’s Charter’ becomes UK law

In a shocking setback for Data Protection, the British Parliament recently adopted one of the most aggressive data surveillance laws in the West. 

The Investigatory Powers Act, known as the “Snooper’s Charter,” is meant to give law enforcement the tools it needs to keep us safe. The new rule does much, much more than that. Telecoms and internet data on everyone in the UK will be required to be stored for up to 12 months, and can be accessed by the authorities.

In some ways even more unsettling: communications service providers in Britain will have to submit to law enforcement demands to hand over encryption keys or open “backdoors” to...

Author: James Kinsella
Nothing, if you keep it in Europe and out of his hands


President-elect Donald Trump has the same singular agenda he has shown throughout his life: to gain and retain power. He has done that with contempt for rules and a strong penchant for revenge. So what does that mean for control of your data? 

If you or your company’s data stored on US servers might be useful to his business or political interests, he could very well attempt to access it. And given that the majority of European data stored in the cloud sits on servers owned by US companies, Trump’s victory now gives him unprecedented – and legal – ability to try to do just that.

This is not speculation; this is...

Author: James Kinsella
Ambition, pride and a focus on data sovereignty are making it happen


ISTANBUL. When an American cloud service giant recently sent a group of its employees here on business, it hired body guards to protect them – even though those tech execs are far more likely to be a victim of violence roaming a major US city than in Istanbul (7 times more likely, actually). 

If the American cloud kings were so frightened that they would travel only under security escort, why did they journey to Istanbul in the first place? Opportunity, of course.

Turkey is the third largest European nation, behind Russia and Germany.  And yet its tech industry is tiny by almost any measure. And...

Author: James Kinsella
Germany tries to limit the Goliath’s embrace of you


Facebook often seems like an overly friendly date who decides mid-meal to sneak his hands under the table, over the table and all around you. Ugg. Back off my private... data. The social media giant Facebook just got smacked back in another European privacy-related incident -- this time by Hamburg’s Data Protection Commissioner.

Last month, Whatsapp revealed it would be sharing users’ data with its parent company, Facebook. That meant, in Germany alone, some 35 million users suddenly had their mobile numbers linked to their Facebook accounts.

Now, Facebook has been ordered to stop collecting data from Whatsapp...

In Yahoo we trust? 23 Sep 2016
Author: James Kinsella
How the cloud giants make you vulnerable


The personal details of the equivalent of the entire European Union were hacked, Yahoo reported.  The 500 million Yahoo users were not all Europeans, of course. But the numbers of accounts violated – almost 7% of the human population – is staggering. And the attack affects many millions of us. 

Disturbingly, these kinds of violations are very common.

More shockingly, in Europe, we have come to accept that the centralization of our information in a US cloud is natural or unavoidable.

Hacks of personal data happen all the time. No website, no cloud service, is immune. But with the rise of massive, central databases like...