Technology is changing how we think, talk and act. How do we decide what is right and wrong in an age of connected people and machines? How do we hold powerful companies and governments to account? How should technology be developed and deployed in areas where the law seems to be silent or disputed? In other words, what is ethics in the digital age?
August in Brussels is often a rather quiet affair as the EU bubble floats temporarily away from the European capital.
But this is no normal summer for the EDPS. In precisely two months’ time, from 22 to 26 October, the 2018 International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners will start right here in the heart of the EU, and my staff and I are hard at work to host a data protection conversation like no other.
Data flows digitally across borders. It is therefore vital that we address data protection in a global context.
Though they may be exempt from national laws, including those relating to data protection, international organisations are influential advocates for the development of a privacy culture. Their position means that they are able to spread knowledge about data protection and privacy in parts of the world where, for various reasons, it has not necessarily been high on the agenda.
On 24-25 October this year, Brussels will be the venue for a unique international gathering. The atmosphere may perhaps be more cordial than the summit hosted by Europe’s capital earlier this week, with certainly much less disruption to traffic.
Earlier this year , we met with the European civil liberties organizations to discuss the state of data protection and privacy in the EU. This ‘EDPS-Civil Society (CSO) Summit’ is becoming a fond tradition I believe on both sides. I will meet a number of these good people again for the RightsCon event, this year to be held in Toronto 16-18 May, where I will be part of a panel on the ‘global state of data protection’
The digital information ecosystem farms people for their attention, ideas and data in exchange for so called 'free' services. Unlike their analogue equivalents, these sweatshops of the connected world extract more than one's labour, and while clocking into the online factory is effortless it is often impossible to clock off.
Where I come from, we have a pleasing little idiom: conoscere i propri polli – literally, to know one’s own chickens. It means to have an intimate appreciation of a character or a familiar situation. We in Europe certainly need to get better acquainted with our own way of safeguarding public security, as the ongoing debate on international commercial data flows illustrates.
25 May 2018 is not only GDPR day.
It is also scheduled to be the day on which a new Regulation (the new 45) governing data processing by the European Institutions, Bodies and Agencies (EUIs), will become applicable, replacing the current Regulation (EC) No. 45/2001.