Big Data and Digital Clearing House

What you should know about big data

Big data means large amounts of different types of data produced at high speed from multiple sources, requiring new and more powerful processors and algorithms to process and to analyse.  These practices and technologies could offer major benefits for economic growth and various sectors including energy transportation and health.

Not all of this information is personal, but businesses and governments are more and more using big data to understand, predict and shape human behaviour.  Big data is therefore a long term strategic concern for data protection and privacy regulators. It puts strain on not only privacy and data protection, but other fundamental rights including freedom of expression and non-discrimination.

Through a series of Opinions and other initiatives, the EDPS has been developing the concept of Big Data Protection, which includes but goes beyond modern and simple-to-implement laws:

  • Future oriented rules and enforcement – not only on data protection and confidentiality of communications, but also through coherent enforcement by competition, consumer and data protection authorities
  • Accountable controllers - with the EU institutions themselves leading by example
  • Empowered individuals, for instance through personal information management systems
  • Innovative privacy engineering, for instance through the IPEN initiative

In response to the resolution of the Spring Conference of European data protection authorities, we have proposed the establishment of a Digital Clearing House to bring together, for the first time, agencies from competition, consumer and data protection areas who are willing to share information and discuss how best to enforce rules in the interests of the individual.  This was discussed at a high-level conference jointly hosted by EDPS and BEUC on 29 September 2016.  


More information


See also

Bibliography of Materials Relevant to the Interaction of Competition Policy, Big Data and Personal Data, Cyril Ritter, DG Competition, European Commission

OECD Competition Division project on Big data: Bringing competition policy to the digital era