8 months ago

Diplomatic World_nummer 56.


INTERVIEW WITH PHILIPPE DE BACKER STATE SECRETARY FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST SOCIAL FRAUD, PRIVACY AND NORTH SEA, ATTACHED TO THE MINISTER OF SOCIAL AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC HEALTH 42 As Secretary of State you are confronted with many challenges related to online privacy and to different audiences. 2018 will be the year of personal data privacy. Our future generations grow up immersed in a cloud of data. How to make young people aware of the importance of online privacy ? Digital is the new normal and even more the future. And that is excellent. Daily technological innovation pushes our society forward. Every new application improves our quality of life a bit more. The digital sector creates enormous economic prosperity and social well-being. But above all it connects people and ideas worldwide. Younger generations are the canary in the coal mine in this digital world. They are always the first to follow the latest trends. This has always been the case. This poses, of course, a huge challenge for parents, teachers and youth counselors. How do we protect our young people when they often get the new technology faster and better? This is one of my main concerns. There is also a downside to the medal. The less attractive side of our society is also making its way to the online world. Specifically for young people it concerns for example: bullying, sexually transgressive behavior or strangers with unsavory intentions that anonymously ask for your personal details. This is one of my main concerns. I want to make the youth more aware of underlying dangers. In this changing context, the new European privacy regulation must be considered. It wants to give European citizens more control and protection of their personal data and focuses emphatically on the better protection of young people. It is now up to the Member States to determine when young people get free access to the worldwide web between thirteen and sixteen years. As the competent Secretary of State for privacy, I will do everything in my power to get this age at thirteen years. First, because raising the minimum age would be evidence of unworldliness. The illusion that we would be able to shut youth off in times which every device is connected to the worldwide web would be naive. The rebellious youngster does not care about a digital prohibition sign. Secondly, because we simply do not want to. It also offers added value to their lives. Social media are an undeniably important part in the world of young people where they meet peers and family and celebrate their creativity online. The fact that we offer young people free access to social media from the age of thirteen means that we have to invest in media literacy. I myself am making a tour around different highschools to educate youngsters about the possibilities that the internet has to offer but also educate them about the hidden dangers with regards to their privacy. We have to teach them the right reflexes so that they can react appropriately when they are confronted with the dangers of the anonymous web or the demand for release of personal information. We need to make them resilient by

Philippe De Backer consciously learning how to deal with everything they share online, by requiring them to think about the impact of messages they post and make them master of their own data. Just like in the real world, we also support our young people in the digital world. In parallel, our oceans are polluted by plastics and other trash; for Belgium this is also the fact for the North Sea. With your Sea Trash Plan you make the first scientifically supported start of a campaign to prevent and counterattack these pollutions. How will you coordinate, execute and make this plan work ? Worldwide the call to take care of our environment sounds increasingly louder. It shows a concern for the generations who come after us. That is why I am proud that, as Secretary of State for the North Sea, I can contribute to this with my Action Plan for Maritime Litter which registers in the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The scientific, well-founded action plan is a 360° plan based on international, national and regional cooperation. It guarantees the strength that is needed to get rid of the cleaning up of our North Sea, but above all to tackle the problem at the source. This by focusing on prevention through communication and awareness-raising, but also by strictly supervising compliance with legislation. It is a necessary part of a comprehensive plan if we want to prevent that we continue to fight a running battle. A final part of the plan focuses on scientific research. As a biologist, the well-being of the North Sea is close to my heart. Plastic is an invention of man. The solution for the plastic soup in our North Sea and, by extension, the merging of economics and ecology into a circular economy will also have to be the result of human creativity. China is building new economic roads. China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is not a threat to the global economic or political order, and could turn out to become a significant vision that generates enormous benefits for the world. Which new opportunities may lay ahead via these new roads for Chinese investors in Europe, Belgium and Antwerp and vice versa ? I always welcome trade. It is unquestionably the historical engine to which we owe our present-day prosperity. It is incomprehensible to me that people on the international stage are raving about mercantilist recipes today. International trade is not a zero-sum game. It will not surprise you that I encourage additional trade routes. World trade can only benefit from this. The crucial condition here is that everyone follows the same rules. The Chinese “Belt and Road Initiative” seems at first sight to contribute to the better alignment of policy, infrastructure works and customs controls. The objectives are therefore suspiciously similar to those of the European Union. 43