25 August 2019

MED x European Forum Alpbach – Liberty and Security in Europe: Policymaking in an Era of Value Conflicts

On the sidelines of the Political and Legal Symposia of the European Forum Alpbach 2019, 14 members of the Mercator European Dialogue gathered to discuss value conflicts in policymaking with a focus on systematic data collection and use by governments through new technologies and algorithms.

In its second cooperation with the the European Forum Alpbach, the Mercator European Dialogue offered members of the network a scholarship to participate in the Political and Legal Symposia of the Forum. Network members participated in the high-level sessions from 24 to 27 August 2019, in which they were able to explore new initiatives and connect with actors based on their field of interest.

In an exclusive side-meeting organized by the Mercator European Dialogue, 14 Members of national Parliaments from 10 different EU countries shared perspectives and policy challenges regarding the regulation of data use by governments. The discussion was guided around the question whether governments should systematically collect individual data of all citizens to advance the public good. Inspired by the input of Kristin Shi-Kupfer, Director of the Research Area on Public Policy and Society at the Mercator Institute for China Studies, and Michael O’Flaherty, Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, participants discussed the opportunities and risks that new technologies offer to governments.

Throughout the discussion, participants pointed out that while data collection has become a necessary tool for governments today, there is a need for strong checks and balances to protect the safety of big data and prevent misuse. When considering recommendations for policymakers, MPs highlighted the need for democratic oversight through either the parliament or an independent body as well as the importance of a clearly defined mandate of data collection by governments.

“No collection without protection” – MP at the Mercator European Dialogue, 25. August 2019

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