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Profiling should not harm human rights nor democratic societies

Strasbourg 9 November 2021
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© Shutterstock

© Shutterstock

On 3 November, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has adopted a recommendation on the protection of individuals with regard to automatic processing of personal data in the context of profiling . The text updates a previous recommendation on the same topic adopted in 2010 and aims to align its provisions with the modernised data protection “Convention 108”, known as “Convention 108+”. Profiling techniques can impact individuals by placing them in predetermined categories, very often without their knowledge. This lack of transparency can pose significant risks to human rights, particularly for vulnerable persons, including children. The Council of Europe therefore calls on states to promote and make legally binding the use of a “privacy by design” approach during the whole duration of the processing, notably through the use of privacy-enhancing technologies. The recommendation provides that processing for the purpose of detecting or predicting racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, trade union membership, religious or other beliefs, health or sexual life should only be allowed according to the recommendation where appropriate safeguards are enshrined in law and the data are strictly necessary for the lawful and specific purposes of processing.

The recommendation emphasizes the necessity for “respect for fundamental rights and freedoms, notably the rights to human dignity and to privacy but also the freedom of expression and the principle of non-discrimination, but also the imperatives of social justice, cultural diversity and democracy, should be guaranteed during the processing of personal data, in both the public and private sectors”.