Wednesday 20th January, 2016: The EU ruling on our ‘Right to be Forgotten’ online was the subject of a privacy and ethics public lecture hosted by the ADAPT Centre for Digital Content Technology today at Trinity College Dublin. Professor Luciano Floridi of Oxford University’s Internet Institute was joined by Dara Murphy, Minister of State for European Affairs and Data Protection, Daragh O’Brien, Managing Director of data protection compliance consultancy Castlebridge Associates, and Professor Owen Conlan of the ADAPT Centre.
The European Court of Justice’s ruling in favour of the ‘right to be forgotten’ unveils a tension between privacy and the value of controlling and shaping information about oneself on the one hand, and freedom of speech and the value of having access to relevant information on the other.
Speaking about this tension Professor Floridi said: “More and more, our lives are spent and shaped in the infosphere. Rather than just trying to adopt small, incremental changes in old conceptual frameworks, merely adapting previous legislation, or tinkering with current technologies, we need new and bold ideas, and more dialogue. The information revolution has brought a remarkable capacity to tailor digital services and products for commercial and scientific ends. We must pay equal, if not more, attention to ethical ends, reflecting on how we may promote an “e-nvironmental” ethics for our infosphere.”
Professor Declan O’Sullivan of ADAPT commented: “There is an urgent need to address how data about a person and data about his/her use of services is handled on the web. In our research we are taking the unique approach of bringing together experts from ethical, legal and technological perspectives to design solutions to address these challenges in a way that balances the rights of individuals, the needs of service providers and the good of society as a whole. The visit of Professor Floridi and the Minister is very timely and we appreciate their contributions to our discussions.”
The discussion highlighted the need for change. Current European data protection law was passed when there was a clear divide between online and offline. Today, that divide is being bridged in favour of the “onlife”, a mixture of analogue and digital, physical and virtual experiences as increasingly people’s lives are spent and shaped in the infosphere.
The event was organised by the Ethics & Privacy Working Group of the ADAPT Centre and is run in association with Trinity College Dublin’s Schools of Law; Religions, Peace Studies and Theology; DCU Institute of Ethics, and the Trinity College Library.
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