The Citizen – Negotiating Life in the Digital World

Left to Right: Jacques.Bus (Advisor, NL) Dara Murphy T.D., Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, Prof Willie Donnelly (Vice-President Research WIT and Founder of TSSG, IRL) and Georges Metakides (prof Univ of Patras, GR)

Left to Right: Jacques.Bus (Advisor, NL) Dara Murphy T.D., Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection, Prof Willie Donnelly (Vice-President Research WIT and Founder of TSSG, IRL) and Georges Metakides (prof Univ of Patras, GR)

The Digital Enlightenment Forum 2015, was held in the Newpark Hotel on Wednesday March 25th and Thursday March 26th the forum was a unique opportunity to explore the many questions that the topic of the ‘digital citizen’ brings to mind.

As the role of technologies across communities become ever more widespread, as imagined futures are increasingly cast in terms of technological innovation and development, and, as the boundaries between the human and the digital continue to blur, a growing array of diverse actors are bringing insights, comments, positions, questions, and knowledge on where, when, in what ways, and with whom technology intersects and entwines.

Social media has brought us many benefits; for example, we can easily keep in touch with friends and family on the other side of the world. Unfortunately, we also see the downsides of its impact; cyber-bullying is becoming an issue of growing concern for parents and teachers.

We need to take ‘time-out’ in today’s society, and participate in a conversation about the challenges faced by the individual in this digital age. As technology continues to become more ubiquitous and personalised, data privacy has legitimately become an increasing concern for citizens.

Wearable technology, driverless cars and smart meters in our homes all have the potential to change how we live our lives. A key challenge for us is to ensure that regulation keeps pace with these changes.

Dara Murphy T.D., Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection spoke at the Digital Enlightenment Forum.  He began by saying “We need to put people in control of their data by integrating privacy into our policies and practices. This approach is known as ‘Privacy by Design’ and focuses on the privacy concern of citizens from the beginning and minimises the collection of data.”

He went on to say “From a Government perspective, this will ensure that privacy controls and data protection safeguards are taken into consideration at the design stages of policy development”

“For Ireland and Europe to realise the full potential of the 500-million-person strong single digital market, we need to ensure high levels of citizen trust and confidence in the digital environment.

Significant progress has been made in relation to the negotiations on new EU data protection legislation, ; however more work is still needed over the coming months as we work towards agreement.”

This year’s Digital Enlightenment Forum brought experts from multiple fields, drawing on their backgrounds of experience and expertise as they explore the relationship between issues of technology neutrality, design, user experiences, rights and responsibilities, along with comparing differing criteria, bodies of evidence, norms and values used to critically explore and evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of emerging technologies.

Speakers at the event included Malcolm Crompton, Managing Director of Information Integrity Solutions Pty Ltd (IIS), a global consultancy specialising in data protection and privacy strategies and Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford.

The event was hosted by Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunication Software & Systems Group (TSSG) and The Digital Enlightenment Forum, established as a not-for-profit organisation in Luxembourg by Jacques Bus (Advisor, NL) and one of its founders included Prof Willie Donnelly (Vice-President Research WIT, IRL).

Prof Willie Donnelly, Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunication Software & Systems Group (TSSG) commented on the event by saying “The Digital Enlightenment Forum brings together world leading experts from industry, academia and government to develop policy on citizen privacy and data protection. The conference findings provide guidance to policy makers in government and industry on legislation and industry best in digital citizens’ rights.

He went on to say DEF were particularly impressed with Ireland’s leadership role in privacy and data protection within Europe.  Ireland’s commitment to data protection and citizen privacy in the digital world at ministerial level makes Ireland the location of choice for triple A rated internet based companies. The choice of Ireland for the Digital Enlightenment Forum conference is recognition of Ireland leadership in this space.”