6 August 2020

GDPR in the News

By Naomi Korn and Faye Cheung

Green Squares (from series, the Mathematical Basis of the Arts), 1934, Joseph Schillinger. Image credit: Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mrs. Joseph Schillinger, 1966.39.2

Naomi and Faye look at the published guidance for GDPR and AI by Alan Turing Institute and ICO as well as New Child Code Discussed by Parliament which allows children aged 13 and over to create their own account on specified age appropriate social media platforms.


Looking ahead, artificial intelligence (AI) will continue to test the effectiveness of GDPR and DPA. The Alan Turing Institute and ICO have published guidance on data protection compliance and artificial intelligence. It helpfully explains how ‘data protection law is technology neutral’ in that it does not have any direct references to AI and machine learning.[1] However, the legislation does have a significant focus on large scale automated processing of personal data and has specific provisions on the use of profiling and automated decision-making. AI is being used more and more and it will be interesting to see what GDPR breeches come to light as a result. It is not only big businesses that use AI. In April 2020 the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) awarded a contract to Faculty, an AI company, who, according to the Guardian also worked on the Vote Leave campaign.[2] The details of the contract are unknown but a MHCLG spokesperson has said that ‘Faculty is helping MHCLG to analyse data in real time allowing the department to monitor the impact of Covid-19 on local communities and respond to emerging issues at pace’. The ICO’s report on AI highlights how artificial intelligence often uses or creates large volumes of personal data, which might also be used to make predictions or inferences about people. These predictions and inferences are also deemed as personal data which is subject to GDPR and DPA.[3] It will be interesting and important to keep abreast of the data protection issues arising in connection to AI going forward and to see how GDPR and DPA is interpreted and applied as a result.

New Child Code Discussed by Parliament

Children aged 13 and over can create their own account on specified age appropriate social media platforms[4].  If organisations provide services which children under 13 can access then additional safeguards are required to ensure their safety. In order to further protect children engaging online, a new age appropriate set of guidelines is currently being discussed by Parliament. The Information Commissioners Office commented:

“We welcome the news that Government has laid the Age Appropriate Design Code before Parliament. It’s a huge step towards protecting children online especially given the increased reliance on online services at home during COVID-19.

“The code sets out 15 standards that relevant online services should meet to protect children’s privacy and is the result of wide-ranging consultation and engagement with stakeholders including the tech industry, campaigners, trade bodies and organisations.

“We are now pulling together our existing work on the benefits and the costs of the code to assess its impact. This will inform the discussions we have with businesses to help us develop a package of support to help them implement the code during the transition year.”[5]

Ensure you’re up to date about the latest data protection legislation & learn practical strategies to ensure your organisation remains compliant in our comprehensive 2 part training, Data Protection Officer Workshop. For more details see our training page. 

This article was first published on Forum Business Media’s GDPR online resource https://www.gdprorb.co.uk/content-partners

[1] ‘Explaining Decisions Made with AI’ ICO and The Alan Turing Institute, 2020 <https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/key-data-protection-themes/explaining-decisions-made-with-artificial-intelligence-1-0.pdf&gt; . Page 11.

[2] ‘AI firm that worked with Vote Leave wins new coronavirus contract’ by David Pegg and Rob Evans, 2nd June 2020, The Guardian <https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2020/jun/02/ai-firm-that-worked-with-vote-leave-wins-new-coronavirus-contract>

[3] Explaining Decisions Made with AI’ ICO and The Alan Turing Institute, 2020 <https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/key-data-protection-themes/explaining-decisions-made-with-artificial-intelligence-1-0.pdf&gt; accessed 2nd June 2020. Page 10.

[4] Childnet have produced guidance about how young people can remain safe when using social media platforms https://www.childnet.com/young-people/secondary/social-media The ICO has also developed a statutory code that provides useful context https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/key-data-protection-themes/age-appropriate-design-a-code-of-practice-for-online-services/about-this-code/

[5] https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2020/06/age-appropriate-design-code-is-laid-before-parliament/

© Naomi Korn Associates, 2020. Some Rights Reserved.

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