The numerous debates triggered by the increased collection and processing of personal data for various – and often unaccountable – purposes are particularly vivid at the EU level. Two interlinked, and to some extent conflicting, initiatives are relevant here: the development of EU strategies promoting a data-driven economy and the current reform of the EU personal data protection legal framework in the context of the adoption of a General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). In this context, and focusing on the development of Big Data practices, smart devices and the Internet of Things (IoT), this Study shows that the high degree of opacity of many contemporary data processing activities directly affects the right of the individuals to know what is being done with the data collected about them. This Study argues that the promotion of a data-driven economy should not underestimate the challenges raised for privacy and personal data protection and that strengthening the rights of digital citizens should be the main focus of the current debates around the GDPR.
Authors: Gloria González Fuster,Research Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), Amandine Scherrer, European Studies Coordinator and Associate Researcher at the Centre d’Etudes sur les Conflits, Liberté et Sécurité (CCLS)