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The free movement of data is the so-called Fifth Freedom after the free movement of goods, capital, services, and persons. It is one of the priorities of Estonia's EU Presidency and was the focus of attention during a recent conference in Talinn, where EU data protection supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski shared his insights.
The new data protection framework aims to be a golden standard of data protection for the European Union and its digital single market, where, for example, rules dealing with privacy online mean not only the protection of the confidentiality of information, but also the confidentiality of communication between people.
In terms of data protection, what is the optimal standard for the digital single market?
The optimal situation is where the real controller of the data about a person is that person themselves, while at the same time ensuring that the data that isn’t associated with that person cannot travel across borders without limits.
What are the technical and organisational barriers around interoperability that need to be overcome?
From a technical perspective, for data to flow across borders we need an interoperable infrastructure.
From an organisational perspective, we have to know where the data is, who is controlling it, and how it is being dealt with it.
What other challenges are there?
At the semantic level, we have to understand what the data is and understand the different languages, and tackle the diverse formats that are used for different kinds of data.
From a legal perspective, we have to deal with the challenges of cyber security and also the fight against cyber crimes.
There are also cultural differences across the EU, with some countries being very open and others much stricter about what personal data should be publicly available.
On top of this, what role are European projects playing to address the legal and security challenges related to the Free Flow of Data?
The EC Cluster on Data Protection, Security and Privacy (or DPSP Cluster for short) is a group of forward-looking European projects addressing these topics through advances in cloud computing products and services. A recent white paper, Cloud Technology Options towards a Free Flow of Data, identifies the state-of-the-art of technology options towards solving the data security and privacy challenges posed by the Free Flow of Data initiative in Europe by focusing of outputs of the projects and the innovations they bring.