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Interview: Digital Wombats, our next Digital Trust Hero in May

Who are the Digital Wombats and what makes them our Digital Trust Hero, find out more here in the interview.

Today we introduce to you our Digital Trust Hero for May: the Digital Wombats.

We all know the situation — we often agree to Privacy Policies without really reading or understanding them. Why? Everything is wrapped up in long, unreadable legal texts. And this is where the Digital Wombats come in: Their mission is to educate about privacy-related topics. To find out how they plan to achieve this and what other goals they are pursuing, read this interview with one of the founders, Milena Stolz.

Hi, Digital Wombats! To get started, tell us 3 facts about your Initiative.

  • We are the winning project of the Digital Future Challenge 2020 (a student competition by the D21 initiative, Deloitte Foundation and ekipa*) and have been pursuing the idea of developing a long-term data protection seal ever since. However, we are currently focusing on other low-threshold data protection aids.
  • Our name “Digital Wombats” was initially created as an internal joke, but it stands for much more: The wombats are our spirit animals.
  • We are under the patronage of Dorothee Bär, Minister of State for Digital, and have participated in her Innovation Council.

What is the Digital Wombats Mission? What are the benefits for companies or consumers?

Our mission is to educate people about data protection issues. In this way, we want to enable a society-wide discourse on digital responsibility — also in non-professional circles — and work towards our vision in the long term: enable all people to deal with their digital data in a self-determined manner. We see that a seal is currently desired by many stakeholders, but currently cannot be implemented as intended by the GDPR. We therefore start with our work where data protection currently fails above all: The transfer of knowledge and the ability to implement data protection independently. At the same time, we also look at the company side and how actual data protection can also be communicated to users.

Why do you think it is important to deal with the topic of data protection? What is particularly important for you when dealing with sensitive data?

Many people don’t know what it actually means that companies collect so much data about them. At the same time, entire business models are based on accessing and evaluating user data. The use of data is therefore clearly in the hands of companies, which (as we know) do not always act in the interests of the users. We therefore demand that data be handled responsibly — at all levels: politics, business and society. It is not enough just to follow the GDPR as a company or as a user: to refuse cookies. We need a society-wide debate about who should own data and how it can be used.

What do you think the data protection trends could be for 2021?

#Alternatives: WhatsApp’s new data protection regulations at the beginning of the year have led some users to switch to privacy-friendly alternatives such as Threema or Signal. At the same time, the clubhouse hype and the debate about the Corona WarnApp have shown that data protection is an important issue when choosing to use a digital service or app — but unfortunately it is not yet the decisive one.

#USP: More and more start-ups are emerging with concepts or solutions for data protection-friendly everyday life. Data protection is therefore increasingly understood as a “unique selling point”. This also shows that data protection is more and more demanded by users.

What can you recommend to our followers? What simple tips can they use to better protect their data on the Internet?

If you don’t have a background in IT or law, data protection can seem daunting at first. However, here are a few ideas that can be implemented in a matter of minutes:

(1) Install a tracking blocker. There is a very useful browser ad-on called “Privacy Badger”. This can be used for Firefox and Chrome.

(2) Always log out when you no longer use an app or a service. Many platforms can follow you through cookies, even if you have closed their tap. To counteract this, it is also helpful to delete your browser history on a regular basis.

(3) Ask your friends and family if they would like to use alternative messenger services as well. We know the dichotomy — all your friends are on a messenger that doesn’t accept your privacy, so you have to be there too? Not necessarily! Ask your friends and explain what they would gain from it. There’s a snowball effect here: once you’ve asked a few friends, others will follow suit! Stay tuned!

If you could spend an evening with a famous person, who would it be and why?

Regardless of the topic of data protection, I would very much like to meet Reshma Saujani. In 2012 she founded the non-profit organization girls who code, which offers coding programs especially for girls and women and thus actively campaigns against the persistent gender gap in the tech scene. I watched her TED Talk, in which she talks about women and the instilled desire for perfectionism. For me it was a call to be even more courageous. I would like to talk to her about gender equality, social engagement and successful start-ups.

Thank you for the exciting interview, Milena.

By the way, the Digital Future Challenge 2021 is taking place right now, feel free to check it out: https://initiatived21.de/digital-future-challenge/

Learn more about our May 2021 Digital Trust Hero, the Digital Wombats at.https://digitalwombats.eu/

Follow us on Instagram and discover all the Digital Trust Heroes: https://www.instagram.com/helixidofficial/

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