HomeInsightsEthics Advisory Group of European Data Protection Supervisor publishes report on digital ethics

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The new report explains that in his 2015 Opinion, Toward a new digital ethics, the EDPS grounded the “new digital ethics” in the fundamental right to privacy and the protection of personal data, understanding both as crucial for the protection of human dignity. It highlighted the interdependence of technology and human values, stressing that, while technological evolution is informed by human values, those same values do not remain untouched by technologies.

The new report aims to provide a preliminary account of the socio-cultural shifts that have taken place in concert with these technological trends, and to examine how European values may be understood as part of the new data protection ecosystem.

The report says that bridging the gap between traditional principles and a new digital world, with all its social, legal, and economic implications, is “daunting”. There is a distinct need to fundamentally revisit the way ethical values are understood and applied, how they are changing or being re-interpreted, and a need to take stock of their relevance to cope with the new digital challenges.

The report notes that the right to data protection may have so far appeared to be the key to regulating a digitised society. However, in light of recent technological developments, such a right appears “insufficient to understand and address all the ethical challenges brought about by digital technologies.”

According to the report, ethics allows a return to the spirit of the law and offers other insights for conducting an analysis of digital society, such as its collective ethos, its claims to social justice, democracy and personal freedom.

The report has been compiled in anticipation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will become effective on 25 May 2018. It seeks to propose terms and concepts that contribute to a constructive debate about the future of ethics in a fully-fledged digital society. It identifies and clarifies some of the ethical questions that emerge in the application of data protection regulations to the new forms of data collection and processing and to the new economy that has rapidly formed around it. To access the report, click here.