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German ‘Master Key’ Platform To Safeguard Personal Data

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelance and long standing contributor to TechWeek Europe

New data protection platform to provide Germans with an data protection alternative to Google, Facebook

A European data protection initiative has been launched by a number of German firms that will offer a ‘master key’ to personal data while shopping online.

The European online personal data platform is the brainchild of a number of finance, publishing and car making firms such as Allianz, Axel Springer, Daimler, Deutsche Bank, technology think-tank Core, and location services provider Here Technologies.

The thinking is that the European initiative will provide competition to Facebook, which created Facebook Connect to allow users to log on to multiple sites with a single (Facebook) identity.

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The German firms said that a European company will be established in a few months time to help people store their personal data securely, so they can make online purchases from different outlets without having to go through the mission of re-entering their personal data each time.

The German firms signed a declaration of intent to establish a platform for registration, e-identity and data services.

Customers can use this key for registration and identification purposes across a number of industries. This means they will only have to provide a so-called master key to online shops to unlock personal details needed for a transaction.

“New digital products, services and solutions are rapidly changing the way we live, move and interact with each other, and it is vital that we can access them in a user-friendly and secure way,” explained Edzard Overbeek, CEO of Here Technologies.

“As we enter the age of autonomy, a digital master key will be especially useful for people seeking easy access to different modes of transportation,” he said. “We look forward to enabling the benefits of this initiative for participants through our growing Open Location Platform.”

The firms also pledged to ensure that the new venture “aims to guarantee the highest standards in data security and data protection” to offset any privacy and security concerns.

“We Europeans must at last fully play out our strengths in digitalisation,” said Christian Sewing, Deutsche Bank’s deputy CEO. “The time is ripe for a platform initiative of this kind. It will increase legal certainty for clients and boost the European digital economy’s growth.”

The firms said that over the coming few weeks, it will finalise the details of their collaboration and set a launch date for the platform.

It will then submit the plan to the competition authorities for regulatory approval.

German Concerns

Privacy remains a highly sensitive subject in Germany. In 2014 Switzerland and Germany scored well in a poll of Silicon readers about which countries are the most trustworthy with their citizens data and have the best privacy laws.

And Germany’s entire privacy stance was demonstrated in 2014 with government rules which state that IT companies that want to work for the German public sector must guarantee they are not supplying information to any foreign intelligence agency.

In that same year the German government cancelled a contract with the US telecoms giant Verizon Communications, owing to concerns about the spying activities of the National Security Agency (NSA).

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