This month, the Article 29 Data Protection Working Party (Working Party) and the French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) held the European Data Governance Forum, an international conference focusing on the issues of privacy, innovation and surveillance in Europe. The conference highlighted many of the issues raised in the Joint Statement released by the Working Party in November.

The Joint Statement emphasises the need to address “both the lack of confidence in (foreign or national) governments, intelligence and surveillance services, as well as the underlying problem of how to control access to massive amounts of personal data” in this digital age.

The Working Party proposed a series of principles and actions to create a framework enabling “private companies and other relevant bodies to innovate and offer goods and services that meet consumer demand or public needs, whilst allowing national intelligence services to perform their missions within the applicable law but avoiding a surveillance society”.

Some the key messages suggested by the Working Party include:

  • Protection of personal data as a fundamental right
  • Strengthening public awareness and individual empowerment to help individuals limit their exposure to excessive surveillance
  • No secret, massive and indiscriminate surveillance

The use of surveillance systems can be seen as privacy-intrusive, whereas establishing an effective privacy framework focused on transparency, accountability and restoring trust, can act as a counterbalance.