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The EDPS will remain vigilant

Human rights were conceived as a means for individuals to be safeguarded against state interference. EU case law and legislation developed this safeguard, with the European Court of Human Rights stating that the processing of personal data requires protection to ensure a person's enjoyment of the right to respect for private life and freedom of expression and association.


In the EU, personal information cannot be conceived as a mere economic asset, however, we know that now it is commonplace for personal information to be compared to a currency. Indeed for some online services, it is used as a means of payment. In other words, personal data may be traded like a commodity, or it may have an ancillary function as input for the creation of individual user profiles.


Organisations subject to data protection obligations are expected to be able to demonstrate that they have taken the necessary steps to ensure compliance with accountability (see my previous article on accountability principles).


Where information is extracted for some purpose other than improving the quality or decreasing the cost of a zero-priced product, the amount of information extracted is in effect a cost to consumers. Zero prices carry substantial implications for consumer behavior and demand, and customers make subjective and not necessarily rational judgments about the cost in terms of attention and information and the quality of the product.


If all the above sounds familiar, then it is reassuring to know that the European Data Protection Supervisor has also recognised that the above fundamentals are at risk and it also expressed concerns about the need for balancing individual data protection rights codified in the EU GDPR against new laws such as the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act the Data Act, the AI Act and others that are aimed more at markets than the protection of individual rights.


Wojciech Wiewiorowski, said on 14 November 2023 that "we need to ensure the data protection standards that we fought for, throughout many years, will not be adversely impacted by the new rules."


Let's hope that with the introduction of the new rules we could still see the woods for the trees.


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