What does the state actually do with the data of its citizens?
How does it organise, manage and use this gold dust of knowledge for an improved future policy?
A dry but important topic lacking public attention is demography. Population sciences analyse and calculate the development of the population, its size, age structures, characteristics, causes and consequences. In all socio-political and economic data and over the long term. These data are a core element of any long-term planning.
But these statistics are often ignored by politicians who are fixated on the next election. It is often too late by then. They usually prefer to wait and see. Remain vague. Do not develop any reliable long-term financing models. In this case politics, such as developing the financial concept for social welfare and other government tasks, is built on quicksand. An unsound and dubious policy burying its head in the sand.
What is the government’s course, how does it shape its long-term planning? What costs need to be calculated and in which policy areas are they likely to occur?
Demography is the basis for sound planning. We must take it much more seriously and include statistics in all proposals.
In most democracies – especially in Europe, less so in North America – mistrust of the alleged ‚surveillance state‘ has developed into data phobia since the 1970s. It evaluates the use of data as something fundamentally negative and places data protection above all other necessities. I call this a data-protection-fetish.
Data protectionists are absolutely right to criticise the misuse of knowledge by multinational data oligarchs and to protect citizens from it. External global data monopolies, such as Google, Facebook or Amazon, must assume responsibility for their diverse business dealings. The genuine risks lie in their commercial marketing activities, not in the use of citizens’ data by democratically legitimised constitutional na- tions. Data protectionists frequently exaggerate their data prohibitionist thinking, taking an absolutist stance incompatible with other legal interests.
The core of good future policy must never be an abstract idea – i.e. an ideology – but must always focus on people and their concrete needs. Citizens facing the options of absolute dangers must not be prevented from defending against real dangers. Otherwise, data protection would become a tool endangering and damaging individuals in their basic rights to physical integrity and life. The proportions are then no longer correct at all. The idea of protection thus develops into a state of defenselessness and a real threat. It stands on its head – well meant as the opposite of well done.
The corona virus threat proved that new apps and a modern data-based health network as well as digital monitoring of infected people can save many thousands of lives. An ideological approach thus cost the health and lives of thousands who could otherwise have been saved. It did not protect citizens but left them defenceless in the face of a deadly pandemic. A perversion of the idea of protection and freedom, irresponsible and immoral. Using new technologies to prevent and solve all kinds of terrorist activities or murder, rape, child abuse, burglary and other crimes is also severely hampered by the ideologised radical data protectionists.
The data protection mantra and maximum bans often go far too far. This is data ideology, an end in itself without a sense of proportion. But human beings with their needs and the protection of their dignity must always take priority over any purely abstract threat. We do not need an ideology of data protection and prohibition, but a golden source of reason.
How should the state use its citizens’ data?
We need a dual strategy consisting of maximum use of citizens’ data for the benefit of humanity on the one hand and necessary protection against unauthorised access by third parties on the other. Let us trust our constitutional state and our citizens.
De-ideologised data protection allows this gold treasure to be used for the good of all citizens in a data-friendly environ- ment. It secures the data against external abuse with data protection officers who take action after individual abuse and ward off access to the data by third parties. In other words, not preventing data generation in advance, but instead punishing data misuse.
We must re-invent the future with technology and utilize it intelligently. This is only possible with large data volumes and their responsible use in real politics.
An optimal use of all citizen data by the constitutional state for the benefit of all and for the protection of the dignity of the human being and its free and safe development. Immediate establishment of the most advanced, state-of- the-art digital structure in all areas. So that our democracies can work more effectively, at lower-cost and more citizen- friendly and we can shape the Industrial Revolution. To copy the best role models very quickly and lose no time.
This includes the use of state-controlled artificial intelligence to improve all services.
The secure storage of all data in cloud data containers, which the state protects from misuse. From this protected data pool, multinational corporations can also legally obtain their data. In return, they are subject to national laws and also pay a user fee to cover the costs. This would be a better data protection concept than current practice. The new European data infrastructure called Gaia-X is already moving in this direction. This is how creative and meaningful data futures work.
- A newly appointed ‚Minister for Future and Creativity‘ will also be responsible for demographic is- sues, optimal use of data and data protection. Once a year, he would present his ‚Future Population Plan‘ in cooperation with the national statistics authority. This contains developments of the main factors. For example, social charges (pen-sions, health insurance), housing, financing of defense expenditure, economic development, tax revenues, and other factors from each of the ministries’ areas of responsibility. The outlook spans 10, 20, 30 years. The minister also makes concrete proposals, in consultation with the ministries, for sound, long-term financing and securing the future.
- Each ministry must work towards this plan with a specialist department for future planning and statistics and submit its own long-term planning.
- Once a year, a “Future Population Development Plan” is discussed in parliament and an action plan is adopt- ed. This increases the awareness of the media and public for demographic issues.
- Citizens’ data are the gold dust of knowledge for better future policies. They must be used to their best advan- tage. Data protection must be de-ideologised, made more pragmatic and subordinated to the needs of modern data use. The state must be given every opportunity to collect, organise and exchange data for the benefit of its citizens.
- Establish national cloud data containers.
- Establishment of a modern state-of-the-art digital structure. The exemplary systems of Estonia and Taiwan ought to be adopted without delay. Rapid action plus a digital administration are essential for survival. Use the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence for the benefit of citizens.