Copenhagen: IT Pol and Danish digital rights

Niels Larsen, of IT Pol

I met Niels Larsen and a couple of the IT Pol (English pages) crew yesterday, so talked about the digital rights challenges in the UK and Denmark.

I talked about the current surveillance data collection proposals (the Comms Data Bill); and Niels and IT Pol told me about a few disturbing Danish policies.

Two stood out for me. Firstly there is a push for e-voting coming, apparently, from Danish local governments. While this is easily countered as dangerous insecure and expensive, it’s something ORG may be able to help with a little.

Secondly, the Danes have what seems a very dangerous electronic ID policy. As part of their move to placing the whole of government online by 2014, citizens will need to identifiable to the government, securely.

I haven’t read up on the details but it apparently involves for example banks storing everyone’s private encryption keys. The justification is that citizens won’t have to do it themselves.

This of course makes all the uses they are put to vulnerable to anyone who can access the private keys. That will at the very least include law enforcement, but it’s hard to imagine no mistakes will be made by Danish banks.

Since the UK are grappling with the same problem – online identity – but apparently in a saner manner – this is something worth comparing.

In general, Denmark was regarded by these digital activists as rather bad on privacy issues. This is an interesting contrast to its historically liberal reputation in other areas.

On the other hand, ACTA demonstrations attracted up to 15,000 participants in Copenhagen in February. IT Pol didn’t claim credit for this, but did help with the organization, and had been campaigning on it since 2008.

Niels and his wife kindly put me up for a night, which made a welcome change from campsites. Niels is also active with Wikitravel and Open Street Map, and had interesting thoughts about integrating these types of data.

Carlsberg brewery, ropes 

When you are using OSM, or finding information about a location, it would make sense to be able to search geographically, or see what information is available via a map, perhaps.

After another beery night and a late start I was worried I wouldn’t make good progress on Friday – I have 200 miles to cover in four days, with a ferry at 5pm on Monday. But I managed 70 miles, which is good. I cycled past the Carlsberg Brewery, which has now closed. Production has moved to Jutland. There is a museum, and these strange ropes.

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