April 3 - 9, 2022

About the Event

The Privacy Academy 2022 is a SmP (Stipendiat:innen machen Programm) academy sponsored by the German National Academic Foundation (Studienstiftung des deutschen Volkes) and organized by scholarship holders. The event is open to all current Studienstiftung grantees, but we would also like to offer non-scholarship holders the opportunity to apply. Over the course of an entire week, you will have the opportunity to work intensively on the topic of data protection with approximately 80 participants and 8 experts in 6 different working groups.


If you consider the total amount of data that mankind has generated from the beginning until 2005, you come to about 130 exabytes – that is, 130 million terabytes. That includes everything that mankind has created and recorded. Not only digitally, but also in written form, among other things. Just five years later, that amount has increased almost tenfold, and by 2020, a total of about 40,900 exabytes of data is expected to have been generated. So in just 15 years, we’ve generated more than 300 times as much data as the rest of humanity combined. While these statistics should be taken with a grain of salt, the trend of the growing importance of data, economically, politically and scientifically, remains unmistakable: Data is the oil of the 21st century. Big Data, artificial intelligence, Internet of Things: underlying them all is the extensive collection of personal and anonymized data.

Numerous scandals involving the unlawful handling of data in both business and politics repeatedly raise the issue of data protection. The German dictionary Duden defines data protection as “the protection of citizens against the unauthorized collection, storage and dissemination of data (2, 3) relating to their person. In this SmP Academy, however, we would like to express how multifaceted this definition actually is. It is far from just a question of whether some people feel uncomfortable viewing personalized advertising. Among other things, concepts such as those of Echo Chambers will be analyzed in more detail for their potential global societal impact, and the importance of data protection in conjunction with security will be discussed. What rights and obligations in the collection and processing of personal data should research have, and what should business have?

The participants will deal with these topics within different working groups (which will be discussed later on). These will be complemented by a screening of the documentary film “The Great Hack” about Cambridge Analytica, as well as daily accompanying expert presentations on different areas and perspectives. In applied workshops, we will show specifically what simple measures each individual can take, from password security to encryption to alternative operating systems for computers and mobile devices, to better protect themselves. Ultimately, the academy will be rounded out by afternoon programs and elective courses taught by scholarship recipients. Whether it’s theater, a photography course, a reading circle, a running group or a film team – we look forward to the commitment and creativity of the participants here.

Social and Scientific Relevance

Data protection is a word that has been at the center of media attention at least since the revelations of whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. Yet the complex of topics surrounding the term is extremely multifaceted and something that reaches into diverse parts of social and scientific discourse.

Data protection can be understood as a reaction. After all, protection always starts from an aggression that is to be averted. As such a reaction, data protection in its current form is a very recent phenomenon. It was not codified in law until 1970, for example, when the world’s first data protection law was passed in the German state of Hesse.

This look into the recent past reveals that scientific treatment of the topic still has great potential. This is especially true in view of the seemingly exponential growth of technological progress, which regularly seems to add new areas to the dynamics surrounding data protection.

At the same time, a look into the possible future shows the enormous relevance of data protection. Particularly in its understanding as a reaction, there are trends of global proportions that are being responded to. A few multinational corporations, whose value dwarfs entire national economies, are increasingly gaining influence. In response to this oligopolistic set-up, some social awareness of the value of data promises to develop. An awareness that requires critical thinking and social reflection of the kind we hope to foster in this seminar. Any relevant forecast includes data-based economics as a central and increasingly relevant characteristic of our society.

Thus, an examination of the facets of this topic is essential. These range from legal issues, sociocultural and political dynamics, consideration of homomorphic encryption as a promising future technology, to a consideration of science itself. These topics will be addressed in our six working groups.