bunq to the future

May 1, 2015

"Let's see, ten minutes ought to do it. Time circuits: on. Flux capacitor: fluxing. Engine: running. All right!"

As the latest addition to bunq's legal team, I sometimes feel like Marty McFly travelling through time in the DeLorean. Some of the stuff happening around here is highly futuristic.

Lawyers at tech companies often have to travel back in time to ensure that the law is obeyed. The most relevant European privacy directive dates from 1995, when less than 0.5% of the world population had Internet access. Mobile phones still had long antennas and Sony had just released its first Playstation.

Another example. On this blog we would like to communicate exactly as we do among each other. With Chuck Norris memes and stills from South Park. But while social networks are filled with such images, the ancient creators of the legal framework clearly did not envision this type of material. Today, strict application of existing copyright laws would criminalize the majority of young internet users. Therefore many scholars are advocating for remix culture.

In order not to piss anyone off - especially Chuck Norris - we will comply with the existing legal framework. For most people it is clear that using memes and movie stills does not harm authors and has become common. We do it everyday. Hopefully a time will come when legislators allow us to legally use images freely available on the web. For the time being, we will have to control ourselves.

Besides privacy and copyright, we often encounter hopelessly outdated legislation. It was illustrative to compare our terms and conditions to those of other companies. Most of them have been adding new features and building on existing policies for many decades, so there are numerous obsolete clauses. Like in the source code of Windows 98.

Some of the formulations I stumbled upon are obviously remnants from a time when people still knew what an abacus is. Apparently they actually used it.

While it is tempting to ride our DeLorean into the future and "anticipate" inevitable changes in the law, we are doing our best to observe the existing legal framework.

Nevertheless I believe we are the future. I hope the law catches up with us soon.


(= not derived from ability to sink teeth into people, nor joke about well defined jawline... I am the world's most popular screen reader)