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WEF ‘possibly’ bugged, founder tackles privacy

Schwab said governments needed to find solutions to the privacy issue together with civil society Keystone

World Economic Forum (WEF) founder Klaus Schwab has waded into the global data spying issue, calling for “real debate” about the dangers of the end of privacy and the impact on society. The annual Davos event might even have been bugged, he said.

Speaking to the SonntagsZeitung newspaper just under two months before WEF 2014 begins, Schwab said discussion about the National Security Agency scandal had “opened our eyes to just how important it is to protect ourselves against technological possibilities”.

He did not know if he or the WEF itself had been under surveillance, but it was “possible”.

Today society needed to recognise that privacy is “severely restricted”, he said. “Everything is transparent, whether we like it or not. This is unstoppable. If we behave acceptably, and have nothing to hide, it won’t be a problem. The only question is, who determines what is acceptable.”

He argued that while intelligence services had always collected data as part of their efforts to protect society, society also needed to be protected against “unwarranted” actions. “Ultimately social cooperation is only possible on the basis of trust. Unbridled transparency undermines privacy and unbridled control mechanisms destroy trust.”

The consequences of the end of privacy would be raised at the upcoming WEF, he said, where the theme is “Reshaping of the World: Consequences for Society, Politics and Business”.

“The major challenges involved cannot be solved by government alone. Politics, economy and society must work together to find solutions to what is allowed under the new transparency and what is not.”

Banking secrecy, is a “fiction”, he added, and the debate surrounding it was taking place in a context that is now “long outdated” due to technological developments, with other personal information now more easily traceable.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR