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The Privacy Advisor | European Commission publishes data strategy, AI white paper Related reading: DPAs talk priorities at IAPP Europe DPI: France




The European Commission and U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office both took steps to address the developments and challenges around data and artificial intelligence.

On Wednesday, the commission released its EU data strategy. The document outlines the commission’s five-year plan for “policy measures and investments to enable the data economy.” The commission based its strategy on four pillars, one of which is a cross-sectoral governance framework for data access and use. Notably, the commission projects there will be 10.9 million data professionals in the European Union by 2025. That's up from 5.7 million in 2018. 

“In line with this principle, a first priority for operationalising the vision is to put in place an enabling legislative framework for the governance of common European data spaces,” the document states. The commission hopes to accomplish this goal by the fourth quarter of 2020.

The other pillars include investments in data and “strengthening Europe’s capabilities and infrastructures for hosting, processing and using data, interoperability,” empowering citizens to exercise their data rights and establishing “common European data spaces in strategic sectors and domains of public interest.”

“Today we are presenting our ambition to shape Europe's digital future,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “It covers everything from cybersecurity to critical infrastructures, digital education to skills, democracy to media. I want that digital Europe reflects the best of Europe — open, fair, diverse, democratic, and confident.”

While data localization was not explicitly mentioned in the strategy, Politico reports there is a groundswell of support for such laws within the EU. The commission does mention a plan that would “lead to more data being stored and processed in the EU,” as well as an “open, but assertive approach to international data flows.”

In conjunction with the release data strategy, the commission also published a white paper on AI. The white paper covers the policy options the EU could implement to promote the increased use of AI while addressing the risks associated with the technology.

The commission envisions an AI framework that would have the private and public sectors work together and for resources to be pooled to achieve an “‘ecosystem of excellence’ along the entire value chain, starting in research and innovation, and to create the right incentives to accelerate the adoption of solutions based on AI, including by small- and medium-sized enterprises.”

Any future regulatory AI framework would also create an “ecosystem of trust” by ensuring it complies with EU rules on protecting fundamental and consumers’ rights. This would allow citizens to feel confident whenever they interact with AI-powered applications and assuage organizational legal fears as they incorporate the technology.

“(AI) is not good or bad in itself: It all depends on why and how it is used,” European Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said on Twitter. “Let’s enable the best possible use and control the risks that AI may pose to our values.”

The European Commission isn't the only entity looking to tackle AI. The ICO  also announced a consultation on the draft guidance for its AI auditing framework.

The ICO framework contains guidance on how organizations can “understand data protection law in relation to AI” and recommendations for organizational and technical measures to mitigate risks associated with the tech.

The agency is accepting feedback until April 1. It hopes to receive submissions from data protection officers, generals counsel and risk managers, as well as technology specialists, such as machine learning professionals, data scientists, software developers and engineers, and cybersecurity and IT risk managers.

Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

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