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Europe Data Protection Digest | Notes from the IAPP Europe Managing Director, June 24, 2016 Related reading: Tim Cook talks Apple's privacy stance, pushback to app-tracking framework




Greetings from Brussels!

This week I attended a Facebook event in Amsterdam launching its latest report entitled "A New Paradigm for Personal Data." The event was a great opportunity to catch up with the privacy community, and I was glad to see a good number of IAPP members present. The event was hosted by Facebook Global Deputy CPO Stephen Deadman, who, with his team, has been busy over the last 12-plus months holding a series of roundtables across the globe with no fewer than 175 experts and stakeholders, in 11 cities, from the broadest privacy and data communities. The resulting report reflects the pulse and thoughts of this community on how to create a positive and sustainable future for personal data — for the benefit of individuals, organizations and societies.

The fundamental starting point and premise as outlined is an interesting one. As explained in his introduction, through a privacy career that has now spanned a number of years, Stephen has noted an underlying tension in what concerns the personal data debate. Notably, that the desire to innovate with data is generally incompatible with preserving individuals’ rights to privacy and self-determination. This premise seems to be entrenched with regulators, policymakers and industry alike. The accepted view generally to preserving these driving forces seems to be constant "trade-offs," balancing these drivers against each other. 

Stephen disagrees with this approach and believes that data is a powerful force for good — for all concerned: companies, individuals and societies. With this report, Facebook draws on multiple contributions from experts around the world to identify the shifts that could be made to accelerate progress toward a more positive data-driven future with more optimal policy thinking, regulation and organizational practice. In short, an environment where innovation creates value for all parties concerned, inspiring trust and confidence, while minimizing risks and harms associated with the personal data ecosystem.

All of this is distilled into 17 pages, identifying five key shifts that portray and embody the key issues identified by the experts. Facebook, while leading this exercise, takes pains to point out that the paper does not necessarily reflect the views of the company; the goal is to provide a starting point for stakeholder discussion as issues are emerging across the data economy. 

The conclusions in many respects are sound; clearly there is an identified need for shared responsibility across the spectrum of actors. Commercial organizations have an inherent responsibility to demonstrate leadership in a positive fashion to address the overall climate of the data debate, which in turn allows the policymakers and regulators to foster and facilitate the space for positive innovation. Optimally, the public-private partnership and interaction is key to building consumer and social confidence in a safe and trusting data economy. Empowerment of the data subject is also core to the findings. Value exchanges in existing data relationships need a constant emphasis on personal and social value; such as innovative service models that work on behalf of the individual. Indeed, this is an increasingly emerging economy where individuals are taking more control of their data exchange with organizational entities.

The report is welcome and I think the content will appeal to a broad stakeholder group. Such a consultative work with a number of experts is a valuable source of opinion and expression and helps to bring a healthy level of transparency to the debate. Industry should continue to facilitate the debate, in its role as an active player and shareholder to the data economy. Much innovation comes from collective thinking, and I think this has been largely achieved here; hopefully with an aim to inspire our digital evolution.


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