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Call to protect personal data

Personalities highlight multi-billion businesses harvesting social media information

26 February 2013

LEADING French personalities in the media, culture and arts have called for more protection for personal data being used on the internet.

The 32 people – including France Culture chief Olivier Poivre d’Arvor, publishing house president Antoine Gallimard, historian Élie Barnavi, Terrafemina website creator Véronique Morali and UGC chief executive Alain Sussfeld – said that data was called “21st century black gold” and was big business to the companies that used it without people knowing.

Boston Consulting Group has estimated that information culled from Twitter and Facebook messages and Likes plus other freely-found data is worth €1,000 billion to advertisers and other commercial groups in Europe alone.

And, in the US, Forbes magazine said that one single fact about a person’s musical tastes discovered on social media was worth $0.03 – but that was scaled up into a US market that was worth $26bn in 2010 alone.

The group of personalities, speaking ahead of a two-day debate today by European civil liberty groups, said that information on people’s tastes, desires and views was revealed in many ways on the internet with little protection for their private lives.

And the market is interesting the French taxman with ministers at Bercy having just taken possession of a report on the profits that internet giants are making without paying proper tax.

The personalities, members of a group called the Forum d’Avignon, have demanded that personal online data be made secure and anonymous to protect individuals.

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