The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) welcomed over 1000 delegates to the European Parliament in Brussels this morning to debate digital ethics, as part of the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC).
Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “It is a great honour to host the fortieth edition of this prestigious conference. We have put together a superb line-up of speakers, representing a wide range of disciplines, nationalities and viewpoints and I am proud to see this diversity reflected among our 1132 delegates. Through Debating Ethics: Dignity and Respect in Data Driven Life, we aim to stimulate an honest and informed discussion about what digital technology has done and is doing to us as individuals and as societies, identifying the values at risk and what must be done to preserve them.”
Debating Ethics is the theme of the public session of the conference, which opened this morning with an address from the EDPS himself and boasts an intriguing line-up of big-name speakers. Apple CEO Tim Cook, founder of the World Wide Web Sir Tim Berners-Lee and prominent philosopher Anita Allen were among those who took the floor this morning, with contributions from technologist Pascale Fung, big tech insider Tristan Harris, European Commissioner Vera Jourova, former Chief Justice of India Jagdish Singh Khehar and many others still to come.
This is a data protection conference like no other. In addition to data protection authorities and experts, a record number of NGOs are expected to attend, with over 130 delegates from 85 different NGOs registered. Also participating are CEOs, regulators, philosophers, technologists, students and governmental organisations from all over the world, making this the most diverse group of delegates ever seen at the international conference.
This diversity reflects the nature of the issue up for discussion. Developing a digital ethics means thinking about the kind of world we want to live in, exploring the differences between how the world is now and how it should be and acting to ensure that the values we hold dear are adequately protected. While data protection authorities might be capable of kick-starting this debate, a more collaborative approach is necessary if we are to ensure that human beings, rather than technology, remain our primary consideration in this digital era.
The 2018 International Conference takes place in Brussels from 22-26 October 2018 and consists of a closed session for accredited members and observers only, a public session and side events, with additional privacy events taking place in Sofia, Bulgaria.