What does this cover?

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EPDS) has released an opinion on digital ethics entitled – "Towards a new digital ethics – Data, dignity and technology".  The opinion is concerned with the number of trending technologies which carry the risk of inappropriately utilising personal data and therefore raise "the most important ethical and practical questions for the application of data protection principles".

Included in the EDPS's list of technologies of concern (which the EDPS acknowledge is by no means exhaustive) are Big data, 'The Internet of Things', Cloud computing and drones and autonomous vehicles. 3D printing and artificial intelligence were trends considered to have a potentially larger, long term impact.

The EDPS considers that the EU now have to lead the way in creating a regulatory framework which motivates technological innovation and  steers (rather than blocks) technological advancements whilst concurrently safeguarding the personal information protections afforded to EU citizens.

In its press release the EDPS states that "data controllers should be accountable for the dignity of data subjects by adopting codes and policies that demonstrate a respect for the persons whose personal data they use — just because an organisation can piece together a customer's life from their data trail does not mean it always should…

In respect of future–oriented regulation, the EDPS point out that they "recently urged the EU to seize its historic opportunity to put in place simpler rules for handling personal information which will stay relevant for a generation". They also note that accountability of data controllers and developing technology with "privacy-by-design" in mind are key aspects that "the EU should develop and promote."

The EDPS also introduces the Ethics Advisory Board "composed of a select group of distinguished persons from the fields of ethics and philosophy, sociology, psychology, technology and economics, supported as required by additional experts with knowledge and expertise in areas like health, transport and energy, social interaction and media, economy and finance, governance and democracy and security and policing. They will be invited to consider the wider ethical implications of how personal data is conceived and used, with maximum transparency given to their deliberations".

To view the EDPS press release, please click here.

To view the EDPS opinion, please click here.

What action could be taken to manage risks that may arise from this development?

None - this is for interest only.