Global South

While there is no internationally accepted definition of cybersecurity, the dominant discourse around the world, promoted by policy-makers and government agencies, focuses on international crime, prevention of terrorism and the quest for ever increased surveillance of our communications and data.

Despite the multitude of warnings evident in the continuing global data breaches from poorly secured databases in companies and governments’ networks, leading actors in this field, both private and public, have not prioritised addressing the root causes of insecure systems and governments have continued to adopt policies and pass laws that undermine cyber security as a whole and therefore place human rights at risk.

Data protection law is going through another revolution. Established in the 1960s and 1970s in response to the increased use of computing and databases, re-enlivened in the 1990s as a response to the trade of personal information and new market opportunities, it is now becoming much more complex.

New challenges are also emerging in the form of new technologies and business models, services, and systems increasingly rely on analytics, 'Big Data', data sharing, tracking, profiling, and artificial intelligence. The spaces and environments we inhabit and pass through generate and collect data from human behaviour. The devices we wear and carry with us, install in our homes, our channels of communications, sensors in our transport and our streets all generate more and more data. 

Data protection frameworks may have their boundaries and new regulatory regimes may need to be developed to address emerging new data-intensive systems, new frameworks nevertheless provides an important and fundamental starting point to ensure that the fundamental strong regulatory and legal safeguards are implemented to provide the needed governance frameworks nationally, and globally, before we see ourselves the subject of data exploitation.

Financial institutions are collecting and analysing a growing amount of data about us, in order to judge us and make decisions on things like creditworthiness. Increasingly, financial services such as insurers, lenders, banks, and financial mobile app startups, are collecting and exploiting a broad breadth of data to make decisions about people. This has a huge variety of possibilities: the tracking of cars to charge for insurance; reading the contents of your text messages to determine if you’re suitable for a loan; seeing who your friends are to determine your interest rate. The financial sector is changing in how it uses data. This has to be of particular concern when it affects the poorest and most excluded in societies.

Do you live in a “smart city”? Chances are, if you live in a city – even if you are not aware of it – you probably do. Beyond the marketing term – that companies have been using to sell the idea of a city that becomes more efficient, more sustainable and more secure by using technology – what smart cities are really about is the collection of data in the public space by government and the private sector to provide services.