For the launch of its Digital Law Blog, Stibbe builds on the recent EDPS lessons to discuss both the importance of technology and the need to reflect on it within the legal framework
The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) recently opened a public consultation on digital ethics (the “Consultation”) and hosted some days ago the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. The key takeaways from the Consultation and the Conference are twofold. First, and not surprisingly, when organisations were asked about their ethical challenges, all the challenges they mentioned were technology-related. Second, the private sector showed its awareness about the importance of ethics and values in our data-driven society. Are ethics and technology so interconnected? What does it mean to be ethical? Why should ethics even be identified as a goal?
After the agricultural and the industrial revolutions, the digitalisation of our society triggered the third revolution: technology is now a main societal challenge for citizens, public organisations, as well as for the private sector. Among the technologies that are in the spotlight on a daily basis, we see in particular artificial intelligence, blockchain, big data, social media, smart cities, or IoT, all of which trigger the numerous questions pertaining to legal compliance, fundamental values, or ethics.
The Consultation revealed that citizens and organisations expect good corporate citizenship, i.e. corporations that respect the law, or even aim at being ethical. It also showed that 80% of the organisations combine (or will soon combine) ethics and technology; some of them even consider this combination to be “extremely relevant” or “a priority”. These organisations know that ethical behaviour generates competitive advantages or, at least, avoids disruptive financial and reputational effects. Since law is closely linked to ethics, it certainly has a major role to play in the organisations’ reflections on the way they embrace the new technologies.
Stibbe endorses both the importance of technology today and its association with the law. This is why we have decided to launch a Digital Law Blog with the view to providing you with updated information that will allow you to make more informed choices when facing issues relating to the Digital Shift.
This post is inspired by the Summary of the Public Consultation.