Today marks the EU’s 13th annual Data Protection Day, a day devoted to raising awareness of the rights and obligations of citizens and businesses around data privacy.
Data Protection Day 2019 – known as Data Privacy Day outside Europe – marks the first since the introduction of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018. A Joint Statement released by the European Commission’s First Vice-President Frans Timmermans, Vice-President Andrus Ansip; and Commissioners Vera Jourová and Mariya Gabriel in anticipation of this year’s Data Protection Day said: “We are already beginning to see the positive effects of the new rules. Citizens have become more conscious of the importance of data protection and of their rights. And they are now exercising these rights, as national Data Protection Authorities see in their daily work. They have by now received more than 95,000 complaints from citizens. The Data Protection Authorities are also enforcing the new rules and better coordinating their actions in the European Data Protection Board. They are guiding companies, especially small and medium sized enterprises, and citizens, explaining them their rights and obligations.”
This year’s Data Protection Day will focus on promoting data protection and full GDPR implementation to businesses, particularly small and medium sized enterprises. The European Commission has launched a promotional campaign highlighting common myths surrounding GDPR with the intention of demystifying and drawing attention to the benefits of the regulation.
The Joint Statement continued: “Practical implementation by Member States is now well advanced. We count, however, on the five remaining Member States to adapt their legal frameworks to the new EU-wide rules as soon as possible. The Commission continues to monitor this process to address potential shortcomings and help see the EU fully covered by the Data Protection rules as soon as possible.”
To coincide with Data Protection Day 2019, the Committee of the Council of Europe has published an updated set of guidelines for policymakers, developers and service providers on artificial intelligence (AI); aiming to ensure that new developments within the field of AI do not risk infringing citizens’ rights to data privacy. In line with previous EU pledges to concentrate on developing ethical artificial intelligence, the new guidelines emphasise that human rights – particularly the right to protection of personal data – must be taken into account when developing or adopting AI-based software.
Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe Timo Soini welcomed the adoption of the guidelines and said: “Artificial intelligence brings benefits to our daily lives. At the same time, it is necessary to look into the ethical and legal questions that it raises. To ponder this, we have invited many high-level experts from all member states to a conference on the impacts of artificial intelligence development on human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Helsinki on 26 and 27 February that will allow us to exchange thoughts and knowledge.”