Transatlantic Digital Study Tour
The German Marshall Fund (GMF), with support from the German Foreign Ministry, hosted a group of American digital experts for a Study Tour to Brussels and Berlin focusing on big data and the balance between privacy and security. Differing perspectives on data collection, usage, and privacy between the United States and Europe present transatlantic partners with policy challenges ranging from security to innovation.
Representing the business, media, political, and civil society sectors, the study tour participants offered considerable expertise related to big data, surveillance, start-up, and private sector issues. In Brussels, the U.S. experts met with Members of the European Parliament and representatives of the Commission. Other appointments included discussions with representatives from NATO, Digital Europe, and Google. During the Berlin segment of the study tour, participants met with Members of the German Bundestag and the Economics and Foreign Ministries as well as with private sector representatives. The visit to the Stasi Archives on the last day provided insight into Germany’s point of view on digital privacy based on its historical experiences.
A topic enumerated in several discussions was the European Court of Justice’s recent Safe Harbor ruling and its implications for the process of implementing a new agreement as well as its immediate effects on business. German parliamentarians and experts addressed the upcoming reform of data protection legislation in Germany and the implementation of the German Digital Agenda over the next few years. The effect of the Snowden revelations on the transatlantic partnership, changing party politics within Germany, and challenges such as the migration/refugee crisis were also discussed in relation to current digital issues, while a meeting with private sector representatives illustrated the points of contention between companies and government.