Big Data: we need to protect the persons behind the data

Big Data is changing the manner in which the society can be understood. It provides valuable insights and offers opportunities for innovation, enhancing productivity and social participation.
Big Data: we need to protect the persons behind the data

Strasbourg, 24.01.2017:

The nature of Big Data may make very challenging the application of traditional principles of personal data protection, such as purpose limitation or data minimisation. We must ensure that when Big Data involves the processing of personal data, each of us is in a position to exercise our personal autonomy and our right to control our data.

The Guidelines on Big Data adopted by the Consultative Committee of the Council of Europe´s data protection convention (Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, also known as Convention 108) will provide valuable assistance to policy makers and to organisations processing personal data to ensure that persons are placed at the centre of our digital economies.

Alessandra Pierucci, Chairperson of the Committee of Convention 108 highlighted “the importance of providing guidance on what has become in the past years an exponential source of knowledge, and an exponential source of processing of personal data. This first step of the Committee towards a stronger protection of persons in our big data environment will have to lead to further steps, to follow the fast pace evolution of big data related technologies”.

Protecting private life

You go somewhere, you buy something, you apply for a job, you pay your bills : you live... and at each of those moments of your life, your personal information is used, collected, processed. In order to protect your right to private life, with regard to the automatic processing of your personal data, the Council of Europe elaborated the "Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data".

Thirty years after its entry into force, this Convention still remains the only binding international legal instrument in the field, with a potential worldwide scope of application.




The Council of Europe has released this hard-hitting short film to highlight the dangers posed by those who wish to illegally obtain private data.

The film shows a data intruder running through a building and downloading one victim's personal data at home, another's medical records during an examination by a doctor and a third victim's bank details during a transaction at his bank. It ends with a reminder that the Council of Europe has a convention on data protection.

Handbook on European data protection lawHandbook on European data protection law

This Handbook is a comprehensive guide to European data protection law designed to familiarise people who are not specialised in the field of data protection with this area of law. It provides an overview of the Council of Europe’s and the European Union’s applicable legal frameworks and explains key jurisprudence of both the European Court of Human Rights and the Court of Justice of the European Union.

It is available in several languages: BGR - HRV - CZE - DNK - NLD - EST - FIN - GEO - DEU - GRC - HUN - ITA - ROK - LVA - LTU - POL - PRT - ROU - SVK - SVN - SPA - SWE - UKR.

You may obtain printed versions by placing an order at:


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