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EDPS to create Digital Ethics Board

25/09/15

European Data Protection Supervisor aims to assess implications of the changing use of personal data

Plans for a Digital Ethics Board drawing on input from around the EU have been announced by the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS).

Giovanni_ButtarelliGiovanni Buttarelli (pictured) made public the plan along with the release of his formal opinion document on the development of digital ethics.

The move has a relevance to the public and private sectors in its possible long term influence on European regulations,  and internal policies, on the management and sharing of personal data. While most of the reported abuses have involved the misuse of data by private sector businesses, controversies over public sector initiatives, such as NHS England’s Care.data programme, have also fuelled the anxieties over privacy.

An EDPS statement said: “The European Data Protection Supervisor wants to stimulate an informed discussion in the EU, involving civil society, designers, companies, academics, public authorities and regulators.

“A new EU data protection ethics board can help define a new digital ethics, allowing the EU to realise the benefits of technology for society and the economy in ways that reinforce the rights and freedoms of individuals.”

Need for nuance

While the board’s work could feed into European laws, the EDPS emphasised that the use of data creates “many nuanced scenarios” that could be difficult to resolve legally. This creates the need for organisations to become self-policing, with internal codes and polices and accountability in how they handle personal data.

 “Just because an organisation can piece together a customer’s life from their data trail does not mean it always should,” it said.

Earlier this year the EDPS published a five year strategy plan in which one of the main objectives was to encourage relevant industries to develop effective data protection in the use of digital technologies.

The most recent Eurobarometer survey on data protection, published in June, found that two-thirds of respondents around the EU were concerned about not having complete control over the information they published online.

 

 

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