People´s personal data are being processed every second – at work, in their relations with public authorities, in the health field, when they buy goods or services, travel or surf the internet. Individuals are generally unfamiliar with the risks related to the protection of their personal data and of their rights in this respect. They are seldom aware of what they can do if they consider that their rights have been breached, or of the role of national data protection agencies.

On 26 April 2006 the Council of Europe decided to launch a Data Protection Day to be celebrated each year on 28 January, the date on which the Council of Europe’s data protection convention, known as “Convention 108”, was opened for signature. Data Protection Day is now celebrated globally and is called Privacy Day outside Europe.

On this date, governments, parliaments, national data protection bodies and other actors carry out activities to raise awareness about the rights to personal data protection and privacy. These may include campaigns targeting the general public, educational projects for teachers and students, open doors at data protection agencies and conferences.

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New guidelines on artificial intelligence
Council of Europe Strasbourg 28 January 2019
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On the occasion of Data Protection Day on 28 January, the Committee of the Council of Europe's data protection treaty “Convention 108” has published Guidelines on Artificial Intelligence and Data Protection.

The guidelines aim to assist policy makers, artificial intelligence (AI) developers, manufacturers and service providers in ensuring that AI applications do not undermine the right to data protection.

The Convention's Committee underlines that the protection of human rights, including the right to protection of personal data, is essential when developing or adopting AI applications, in particular when they are used in decision-making processes, and that such AI application be based on the principles of the updated data protection convention, “Convention 108+, opened for signature on 10 October 2018.

In addition, any AI application should pay close attention to avoiding and mitigating the potential risks of processing of personal data, and allow meaningful control by data subjects over the data processing and its effects.

Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland and Chair of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe Timo Soini welcomed the adoption of the guidelines and said: “Artificial intelligence brings benefits to our daily lives. At the same time, it is necessary to look into the ethical and legal questions that it raises. To ponder this, we have invited many high-level experts from all member states to a conference on the impacts of artificial intelligence development on human rights, democracy and the rule of law in Helsinki on 26 and 27 February that will allow us to exchange thoughts and knowledge”.

Stefano Rodotà Award

The first Council of Europe´s Stefano Rodotà Award has been granted to Ingrida Milkaite and Eva Lievens, for their work in a research project carried out at Ghent University, which investigates the privacy and data protection from a children's rights perspective: A children’s rights perspective on privacy and data protection in the digital age.

The winners will have the opportunity to present their project at the next plenary session of the Committee of Convention 108 in Strasbourg in June 2019. To be awarded annually on the occasion of Data Protection Day, the Stefano Rodotà Award honours innovative and original academic research projects in the field of data protection.

Council of Europe at data protection conferences

Council of Europe delegations are participating this week in an international conference organised by the Moroccan national data protection Commission in Fez, Morocco, on 28 January, as well as in the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference in Brussels from 30 January to 1 February.

Data Protection Day

Created by the Council of Europe in 2006, Data Protection Day is celebrated every year on 28 January, the date on which the Council of Europe’s Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data was opened for signature. Data Protection Day is now celebrated globally and is called "Privacy Day" or "Data Privacy Day" outside Europe.

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Video of the panel organised by the Council of Europe “Convention 108: convergence and expansion” at the 11th Edition of the “Computers, Privacy and Data Protection” international conference (CPDP) [January 2018]

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Rights of internet users

The Council of Europe has created a guide for internet users to help them better understand their human rights online and what they can do when these rights are challenged.

Generally, these rights are set out in the terms of service of internet companies, which are mostly lengthy legal contractual conditions which are seldom read and even more seldom fully understood.

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Handbook on European data protection law

The aim of this handbook is to raise awareness and improve knowledge of data protection rules in European Union and Council of Europe member states by serving as the main point of reference to which readers can turn.

It is designed for non-specialist legal professionals, judges, national data protection authorities and other persons working in the field of data protection. (more...)

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This short film highlights the dangers posed by those who wish to illegally obtain private data.

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Convention for the Protection of Personal Data (No. 108)

Additional Protocol regarding supervisory authorities and transborder data flows (No. 181)

Modernised Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Processing of Personal Data

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