Data protection authorities (DPAs) are responsible for protecting the privacy of personal data, but states of emergency and exceptional circumstances often require that laws and rules be set aside or interpreted in ways that override data protection in favour of implementing competing values and rights. This may often occur where ‘big data’ sources, algorithms, artificial intelligence, and surveillance instruments are used for identifying and tracking people or in disaster relief. Some would argue that emergencies should not suspend or weaken the protection of privacy and personal data provided by DPAs in exercising their roles. However, others would argue that wartime, terrorism, natural or human-made disasters such as earthquakes and tsunamis, mass displacement of people and international migration, and providing humanitarian relief are occasions that challenge data protection on ethical, human-rights, and practical grounds. Panellists will report on the experience of DPAs, emergency-relief and human rights organisations, and give views on these dilemmas, exploring the issues and ways in which they may be resolved.
• What experience and problems have DPAs had in protecting or overriding privacy in emergency situations?
• What experience and problems have emergency-relief and human rights organisations had in protecting or overriding privacy in emergency situations?
• How have DPAs tried to reconcile or ‘balance’ the competing demands?
• Have DPAs discussed these dilemmas with each other and with emergency-relief organisations informally or in formal meetings across countries or jurisdictions?