COVID-19 has absorbed, as normal and justifiable, most of the data protection community’s attention on pandemic related matters, namely contact tracing apps. The judgment of the Court of Justice in the so-called Schrems II case has dominated our discussions this summer. Nevertheless, Artificial Intelligence (AI) occupies a privileged seat among the data protection hot topics of 2020.
“August 20th marks the first anniversary of the saddest day in the history of our institution. It was a year ago when we learned that the European Data Protection Supervisor Giovanni Buttarelli died in hospital in Milan, losing a long fight against a horrible disease. Though a whole year has already passed, and the world in Covid-19 times looks different than it was in August 2019, it is still hard for me to find the words to describe my feelings that day and to summarize somehow our long friendship with Giovanni.
On 3 June 2020, the EDPS organised its first online workshop of the Internet Privacy Engineering Network (IPEN), on the “state of the art in encryption and its role for protection of privacy and personal data ”. With nearly 200 participants, the event attracted strong interest among privacy experts, developers and engineers.
Upon the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, our everyday life changed to the extent that we were afraid that components of our Europe would be stolen from us forever.Our trainees managed to organise a successful and insightful webinar on privacy and data protection, highlighting that the pillars of democratic systems based on the rule of law should be preserved and prove their resilience vis-à-vis an emergency.
Inevitably, the subject of their webinar affected by the reality of COVID-19, focused on the repercussions of this global health crisis on the fundamental right to data protection.
Our trainees explain their experience and provide further details on the outcome of the debate.
Here is their story.
‘Europe will not be made all at once, or according to a single plan. It will be built through concrete achievements which first create a de facto solidarity’.
Robert Schuman, 9 May 1950
There are events in history that help societies and civilization to move forward, that inspire ideas that shape humankind. Today we celebrate Europe and the foundation that is the Schuman declaration. The declaration set in motion the process of European integration and inspired a whole new era of cooperation between countries, based on the preservation of peace.
Since the last meeting of the network of data protection officers (DPOs) in the EU institutions and bodies (EUIs), in Florence on 7 November 2019, our lives have changed dramatically.
Our way of living and working has been disrupted as governments put in place measures to halt the spread of the Covid-19 virus.
The outbreak of Covid-19 is affecting our lives at an unprecedented pace. It is testing the resilience of our societies as we respond to this global crisis and try to contain its consequences, both in the short and in the long run.
When we started our work on the Strategy for the five-year mandate of the European Data Protection Supervisor, one of the first issues we discussed was whether it should be either a living document, ready to be changed or adjusted, or a robust, future-proof plan.
We know that a substantial amount of data is processed to fuel and improve the machine learning algorithms at the heart of Artificial Intelligence (AI). And we are aware of the rapidly increasing precision and capabilities of ubiquitous surveillance equipment.
If you believe everything you read in the papers or see in films, artificial intelligence (AI) is either going to be the saviour or the downfall of the world as we know it. While we’re not yet witnessing either extreme, it is not under dispute that the various applications of AI raise a number of challenges for those defending the rights and freedoms of individuals.