Big Data & Digital Clearinghouse

Big data and data mining put a strain on both the right to privacy and data protection, but also other fundamental rights including freedom of expression and non-discrimination.

This is because with the large amounts of data that is processed for data mining and the aggregation and analysis of huge volumes of diversely sourced information or big data, the individual risks being lost and defined only by data and algorithms.

Big data, along with machine learning and artificial intelligence, is therefore a long-term strategic concern not only for data protection and privacy regulators like the EDPS, but for other enforcement agencies in the areas of competition and consumer protection.

In light of this, the EDPS proposed the establishment of a Digital Clearinghouse to bring together agencies from the areas of competition, consumer and data protection willing to share information and discuss how best to enforce rules in the interests of the individual.

With our Opinions, workshops and also our proposal for a Digital Clearinghouse, the EDPS has kick-started a worldwide debate on the implications of big data and the need for reflection by legislators and regulators.

In addition to the documents below, you can also read about Big Data in our Reference Library.

On 14 March 2017 the European Parliament adopted a resolution on 'fundamental rights implications of big data: privacy, data protection, non-discrimination, security and law-enforcement' which included a call for "closer cooperation and coherence between different regulators” and endorsed “the establishment and further development of the Digital Clearinghouse  as a voluntary network of enforcement bodies can contribute to enhancing their work and their respective enforcement activities and can help deepen the synergies and the safeguarding of the rights and interests of individuals".

The 2017 International Conference of Privacy and Data Protection Commissioners also endorsed the Clearinghouse in its resolution to calling for greater cooperation between data protection and consumer authorities.

All regulators in the digital space, based in the EU or around the world, are invited to take part in discussions.

The Digital Clearinghouse met for the first time  in Brussels on 29 May 2017. Digital regulators discussions were informed by presentations from Monique Goyens, Bruce Schneier, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, Inge Graef, Tristan Harris and Alexandre de Streel. The statement from first meeting of the Digital Clearinghouse is available here.

The statement from second meeting of the Digital Clearinghouse is available here.  The meeting on 27 November 2017 focused on the four areas of common concern identified in the first meeting, namely fake news and voter manipulation, the emergence of attention markets and opacity of algorithms which determine how personal data are collected and used.  Further updates will be posted here.

The third meeting of the Digital Clearinghouse took place on 21 June 2018. The statement from the third meeting is available here.

The fourth meeting of the Digital Clearinghouse took place on 10 December 2018. The statement from the fourth meeting is available here.

From 2019, the Digital Clearinghouse is jointly hosted by the Research Centre in Information, Law and Society (CRIDS) at the University of Namur, the Tilburg Institute for Law, Technology, and Society (TILT) at Tilburg University, and the European Policy Centre (EPC) in Brussels.

Regulators met for the fifth meeting on 5 June 2019. The network released a statement at the end of the meeting, available here.

The sixth meeting of the network took place on 19 November 2019. The statement adopted at the end of the meeting by the regulators is available here.

The seventh meeting of the network took place on 10 June 2020. The statement adopted at the end of the meeting is available here.




European Strategy for Data


On 16 June 2020 the European Data Protection Supervisor adopted Opinion 3/2020 on the European strategy for data. The Strategy has been published by the European Commission on 19 February 2020 and is part of a wider package of strategic documents, including also a Communication on Shaping Europe’s digital future and a White Paper on Artificial Intelligence.

Available languages: German, English, French

Leading by Example: EDPS 2015-2019

This report provides an overview of the activities carried out by the EDPS from 2015-2019. In particular, it focuses on how the EDPS has worked towards implementing the objectives set out in the EDPS Strategy 2015-2019, which relate to digitisation, global partnerships and the modernisation of data protection. This involved not only contributing historical pieces of legislation, such as the General Data Protection Regulation and Regulation 2018/1725, but also bringing the concepts of ethics and accountability to the forefront of data protection discourse and application.





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2018 Annual Report - a new era in data protection

2018 was a busy year for the EDPS and a pivotal year for data protection in general. Under new data protection rules, the rights of every individual living in the EU are now better protected than ever. Public awareness about the value of online privacy is at an all-time high.

The 2018 Annual Report provides an insight into all EDPS activities in 2018. Chief among these were our efforts to prepare for the new legislation. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) became fully applicable across the EU on 25 May 2018 and new data protection rules for the EU institutions are also now in place. Working with the new European Data Protection Board (EDPB), the EDPS aims to ensure consistent protection of individuals’ rights, wherever they live in the EU.

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2017 Annual Report - Data Protection and Privacy in 2018: going beyond the GDPR

The GDPR is an outstanding achievement for the EU, its legislators and stakeholders, but the EU's work to ensure that data protection goes digital is far from finished. The majority of the world population now has access to the internet, while tech giants now represent the six highest valued companies in the world. With this in mind, in 2017 the EDPS issued advice to the legislator on the new ePrivacy Regulation, as well as pursuing his own initiatives relating to the Digital Clearinghouse and Digital Ethics, the latter of which will be the main topic of discussion at the 2018 International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, co-hosted by the EDPS.

Finalising and implementing a revised version of the current legislation governing data protection in the EU institutions and bodies as soon as possible is also a priority, if the EU is to remain a credible and effective leader in the protection of individuals' rights. The EDPS intends to exercise the powers granted to him in the revised Regulation efficiently and responsibly, in order to ensure that the EU's institutions and bodies set an example for the rest of the EU to follow. For this reason, the EDPS has invested a lot of effort in preparing the EU institutions for the new rules and will continue to do so throughout 2018.  

In 2017, the EDPS also contributed to ongoing discussions on the Privacy Shield and on the free flow of data in trade agreements, which will remain on the EU and EDPS agenda throughout 2018. With the fight against terrorism still a pressing concern for the EU, the EDPS continues to advocate the need to find a balance between security and privacy in the processing of personal data by law enforcement authorities. As the new data protection supervisor for Europol, the EU’s police authority, he is determined to ensure that the EU sets an example in achieving this balance.


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