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EDPS publishes two opinions on Big Data and Personal Information Management Systems

The EDPS (the European Data Protection Supervisor: The DPA supervising EU institutions) has recently shared two opinions: One regarding Big Data and one on the protection of personal data using Personal Information Management Systems. The former one, published on 23 September, provided an update to the previous Preliminary Opinion on Privacy and Competitiveness in the Age of Big Data, in order to be in line with the Digital Single Market Strategy.

As the Digital Single Market Strategy invoked an urgent need for the enforcement of digital rights, the EDPS recommended setting up a Digital Clearing House for enforcement in the EU digital sector, consisting of a voluntary network of contact points with regulatory authorities in charge of regulating the digital sector, both at national as EU level.

More specifically, the criteria to join the network would be twofold. On the one hand, the authorities should be willing to enhance their enforcement activities for the benefit of individuals’ rights and welfare. On the other hand, they should be open to sharing the necessary information within the boundaries of legal competences and confidentiality.

Secondly, the opinion also considered the need for an EU values-based common area on the web. Such a common area would entail an area where individuals can actually enjoy free services, without this being linked to any tracking or profiling. Following the opinion of the EDPS, such an idea is backed by several leading scholars and will stimulate the protection of privacy.

The other opinion published by the EDPS concerned user empowerment in managing and processing personal data. Via the Personal Information Management System (PIMS), individuals will have the opportunity to store their personal data in online storage systems and decide when and with whom to share it, with the aim of granting individuals greater control over their personal data. Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor issued a press release on this opinion stating that: “Our online lives currently operate in a provider-centric system, where privacy policies tend to serve the interests of the provider or of a third party, rather than the individual. Using the data they collect, advertising networks, social network providers and other corporate actors are able to build increasingly complete individual profiles. This makes it difficult for individuals to exercise their rights or manage their personal data online. A more human-centric approach is needed which empowers individuals to control how their personal data is collected and shared.”

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