Prof. dr. Jeroen van den Hoven (60) is professor of technology and ethics at the University of Technology in Delft.
“By taking privacy seriously, we are not making life easy for ourselves in Europe. However, it is specifically that complexity that makes us innovative: it creates a completely new set of foundations for innovation. Take for example ‘’coarse graining’. This form of technology aimed at protecting privacy makes it possible to count numbers of people using camera images, without their faces being recognisable. This is useful, for example, for crowd management. That is what I would describe as a responsible innovation: you are transparent about the moral choices you have made and what you want to achieve.”
“Data from smartphones can also make a huge contribution to a safe and sustainable society. The problem is: the information in question is often privacy-sensitive. And that means we are increasingly dependent on commercial organisations. In many cases, specifically on those businesses that are highly skilled in combining data. It is therefore smart to cooperate with the private sector, but it is important not to hand over control. At the end of the day, the primary objective of businesses is to earn money.”
“Government must ask itself: what are the moral values we intend to serve? For example, blockchain offers interesting possibilities. By using blockchain, it is possible to record basic data such as names, ages and transactions in such a way that they cannot be manipulated. On the other hand, it is difficult to reconcile such aspects as privacy when it comes to the desire to use blockchain to improve services. There are also challenges with regard to democracy. There is currently much talk about the manipulation of elections. How can digital resources actually be used to support and innovate democracy? In my judgment, these are issues we need to tackle quickly in the Netherlands.”