People´s personal data are being processed every second – at work, in their relations with public authorities, in the health field, when they buy goods or services, travel or surf the internet. Individuals are generally unfamiliar with the risks related to the protection of their personal data and of their rights in this respect. They are seldom aware of what they can do if they consider that their rights have been breached, or of the role of national data protection agencies.
On 26 April 2006 the Council of Europe decided to launch a Data Protection Day to be celebrated each year on 28 January, the date on which the Council of Europe’s data protection convention, known as “Convention 108”, was opened for signature. Data Protection Day is now celebrated globally and is called Privacy Day outside Europe.
On this date, governments, parliaments, national data protection bodies and other actors carry out activities to raise awareness about the rights to personal data protection and privacy. These may include campaigns targeting the general public, educational projects for teachers and students, open doors at data protection agencies and conferences.
New Guidelines on artificial intelligence
On the occasion of Data Protection Day on 28 January, the Committee of the Council of Europe’s data protection treaty “Convention 108” has published Guidelines on Artificial Intelligence and Data Protection.
The guidelines aim to assist policy makers, artificial intelligence (AI) developers, manufacturers and service providers in ensuring that AI applications do not undermine the right to data protection.
The Convention’s Committee underlines that the protection of human rights, including the right to protection of personal data, is essential when developing or adopting AI applications, in particular when they are used in decision-making processes, and that such AI application be based on the principles of the updated data protection convention, “Convention 108+, opened for signature on 10 October 2018.
In addition, any AI application should pay close attention to avoiding and mitigating the potential risks of processing of personal data, and allow meaningful control by data subjects over the data processing and its effects.
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”.