EU watchdog: Data collection can't fly under 'user experience' flag

Big data projects run the risk of breaking EU data protection laws

Improving users' experiences is no justification for using consumer information in big data projects, according to Europe's top data protection officials.

The Article 29 Working Group, which includes the data protection supervisors from the European Union's 27 member states, said that consumers' "specific, explicit consent" is almost always required if companies want to use their information in big data projects.

In an opinion document adopted last week, the group stated that "vague or general purposes" such as "improved user experience", "marketing", "IT security" or "future research" are not, on their own, sufficiently specific enough to gain consent.

The newly published 70-page document (http://ec.europa.eu/justice/data-protection/article-29/documentation/opinion-recommendation/files/2013/wp203_en.pdf#page=8&zoom=auto,0,276) sets out the rules that organszations must abide by if they want to use consumer data.

The group, which makes recommendations to the European Commission, defined big data as "gigantic digital datasets held by corporations, governments and other large organisations" that "relies on the increasing ability of technology to support the collection and storage of large amounts of data, but also to analyse, understand and take advantage of the full value of the data."

The argument in favour of big data projects is that they may ultimately lead to better and more informed decisions. The group cites examples such as health care, mobile communications, smart grid, traffic management and fraud detection, where the analysis of big data could have a positive impact. However it warned "consent should be required, for example, for tracking and profiling for purposes of direct marketing, behavioural advertisement, data-brokering, location-based advertising or tracking-based digital market research."

One of the central tenets of the document is the "reasonable expectations of the data subjects" as to the use of their data. So consent given for one process is for that reason alone.

The document also examined the use of public sector information and warned of a possible increase in government surveillance. This could be mitigated by anonymising data, it said.

European Digital Agenda Commissioner Neelie Kroes welcomed a decision by the E.U. Council's 'Coreper' committee to endorse a plan to open up public sector data for re-use across Europe. She was confident the European Parliament would also approve the plan in coming weeks.

"Opening up public data means opening up business opportunities, creating jobs and building communities," said Kroes. According to the Commission, wider availability of public data could boost economic activity by tens of billions of euros per year across the E.U.

Once fully implemented into national law, the revision of the 2003 Public Sector Information Directive would make all generally accessible public sector information, such as geographical data, statistics, meteorological data, data from publicly funded research projects and digitised books from libraries, available for re-use at zero or minimal cost.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

More Brand Posts

What are Chris Riddell's qualifications to talk about technology? What are the awards that Chris Riddell has won? I cannot seem to find ...

Tareq

Digital disruption isn’t disruption anymore: Why it’s time to refocus your business

Read more

Enterprisetalk

Mark

CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Great e-commerce article!

Vadim Frost

CMO’s State of CX Leadership 2022 report finds the CX striving to align to business outcomes

Read more

Are you searching something related to Lottery and Lottery App then Agnito Technologies can be a help for you Agnito comes out as a true ...

jackson13

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Thorough testing and quality assurance are required for a bug-free Lottery Platform. I'm looking forward to dependability.

Ella Hall

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Blog Posts

Marketing prowess versus the enigma of the metaverse

Flash back to the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Television-obsessed Mike insists on becoming the first person to be ‘sent by Wonkavision’, dematerialising on one end, pixel by pixel, and materialising in another space. His cinematic dreams are realised thanks to rash decisions as he is shrunken down to fit the digital universe, followed by a trip to the taffy puller to return to normal size.

Liz Miller

VP, Constellation Research

Why Excellent Leadership Begins with Vertical Growth

Why is it there is no shortage of leadership development materials, yet outstanding leadership is so rare? Despite having access to so many leadership principles, tools, systems and processes, why is it so hard to develop and improve as a leader?

Michael Bunting

Author, leadership expert

More than money talks in sports sponsorship

As a nation united by sport, brands are beginning to learn money alone won’t talk without aligned values and action. If recent events with major leagues and their players have shown us anything, it’s the next generation of athletes are standing by what they believe in – and they won’t let their values be superseded by money.

Simone Waugh

Managing Director, Publicis Queensland

Sign in