Ireland calls for a ‘Magna Carta’ for data ethics in Europe

30 Jan 2015

As the war over trust and privacy online intensifies, Irish data scientists will next week call on EU chiefs to create a ‘Magna Carta’ on data ethics for Europe.

In Brussels next Wednesday an Irish delegation from the Government-supported Insight Centre will deliver a proposal to create a ‘Magna Carta for Data’ to protect individual privacy and support EU-wide data innovation.

The document is designed to contribute to the policy discussion around data ethics, ownership and use in Europe. The EU is currently developing its Data Protection Regulation and Directive.

The Insight Centre for Data Analytics was established in 2013 following a €88 million investment by Science Foundation Ireland, its largest investment to date. Data analytics research is a key economic priority for the Irish Government.

In an interview with this week Max Shrems, the privacy activist suing Facebook’s international operations in the largest class action privacy suit in history, described the Edward Snowden revelations as the “Chernobyl moment in the privacy debate.”

The Magna Carta proposal will be delivered to a large gathering of European Commission officials, MEPs, industry representatives and multinational corporations from sectors including ICT, financial services, health and aviation.

The data revolution will giant over the industrial revolution

“We need comprehensive legislation that defines and defends the rights of European citizens while enabling innovation in data research,” explained Barry O’Sullivan, director and leader of Insight’s strategic engagement with Europe and Horizon 2020.

“Europe has a lot to gain from the data revolution. We need a framework that everyone can trust.”

The CEO of Insight Oliver Daniels said the digital revolution will have a bigger economic impact than that of the industrial revolution.

“Ireland has pushed its way to the forefront of the big data age and now must lead the way in ensuring that democracy and human rights are not pushed aside in the rush to capitalise on this vast new resource.”

Among the Irish delegation will be Oliver Daniels, CEO of Insight Centre for Data Analytics; Dr James Browne, President of NUI Galway; Professor Brian MacCraith, President of Dublin City University; Professor Alan Harvey, Vice President of Research and Innovation, Dublin City University; Professor Anita Maguire, Vice President for Research and Innovation, University College Cork; Professor Orla Feeley, Vice President for Research, Innovation and Impact at University College Dublin and Mike Devane, Co-Chair of the Insight Governance Committee.

Ireland’s new Data Protection Minister Dara Murphy TD will deliver the keynote address in Brussels next Wednesday.

Magna Carta image via Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years