How many Davos participants will happily provide credit card details to the Forum in future? The BBC reports that hackers stole personal data in Davos. (If you read German, the original story from Sonntagszeitung is here, and the sidebar with details of the stolen data is here.) If I read the Swiss story correctly, the data stolen was not just Davos data, but the entire database of the Forum: hackers have made a CD with 161 megabytes of data, including 27,000 names and details of 1,400 credit card numbers.
Charles McLean, head of communications for the Forum, rightly condemns the theft. I think it’s revealing of the Forum’s comparatively leaden response to these issues that its own website contains nothing on the matter (in fact, the last press release is dated 30 January). If the theft was an “anti-globalisation” activity, as seems likely, it emphasises again how institutions in the firing line of these new wave protests are going to need to take extraordinary steps to protect themselves.
***How do you get into Davos (officially)?
A reader has asked a fundamental question: how does one attend the summit in Davos? The simple answer is that participation in Davos is by invitation only. There are four principal groups invited: corporates (almost all are CEOs of member companies of the Forum), political leaders (the Forum invites about 500 politicians each year), media (a pretty restrictive list) and Forum Fellows, who are the experts on various subjects. There are a variety of other constituents, but the first four provide over 90% of the participants.
So for interested individual, the chance of getting invited to Davos is slim. In compensation, the Forum does webcast a number of sessions. There is also an increasing band of people who come to Davos during the Annual Meeting each year to hang around, attend the unofficial receptions and parties and do what business they can do on the fringe of the summit. You need to be thick-skinned to do this, since being badgeless in Davos is a bit like being homeless in Beverly Hills. And spare hotel rooms are in very short supply.