Technological advancement, most centrally big data processing and the interconnectedness of digital devices, allow for the collection and usage of personal data in increasingly complex and opaque ways, thus posing significant threats to privacy and data protection.

Against this background, the EDPS has been calling for a broad understanding of privacy and data protection as core values central to protecting human dignity, autonomy and the democratic functioning of our societies.

How is digitalisation changing people and society? Are digital platforms affecting the way we think, develop our opinions and interact with others? What role do governments play in shaping digital governance? What are the incentives and criteria of tech companies in developing new digital technologies? Who benefits from them and who does not?

Our ethics initiative is a multifaceted five-year programme, consisting of a series of projects that aim at exploring new ethical questions arising in this context.

The initiative is devised as a call upon the European and global community to reflect on rights and values in data-driven life and aims to encourage a proactive and forward-looking engagement with the issue. This includes stimulating a public debate on how digital ethics can serve to strengthen core data protection principles beyond legal compliance.

Through horizontal mainstreaming of ethics, the EDPS also integrates ethical insights into its day-to-day work as an independent regulator and policy advisor.

“Ethics comes before, during and after the law”

Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor


#DebatingEthics Conversation 1: The relationship between ethics and the law

#DebatingEthics Conversation 2: Digitalisation and the future of work

#DebatingEthics Conversation 3: The environmental impact of digitalisation

To follow all episodes, you can also download the podcast feed.


EDPS #DebatingEthics: onto the next round

We closed the public session of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in October 2018 with a promise to continue the discussion on digital ethics. With the launch of our new #DebatingEthics Conversations, a series of six interactive webinars that will then also be released as podcasts, we aim to provide an open platform for this urgent debate.

Each webinar will revolve around a specific theme and bring together different perspectives. Our provisional programme is as follows:

February 2019: #DebatingEthics 1 - Digital ethics and the law
April 2019: #DebatingEthics 2 - Digitalisation and the future of work
July 2019: #DebatingEthics 3 - The environmental impact of new technologies

Each webinar will be open for anyone to listen in and comment or ask questions at the end of the discussion. How can moral reasoning help us shape responsible technological development? Follow our updates here and on Twitter and join us in #DebatingEthics.



Data Driven Life Workshop


Speakers' intervention:

Giovanni Buttarelli, European Data Protection Supervisor

Peter Burgess, Chair of the Ethics Advisory Group

Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information and Director of Research of the Digital Ethics Lab, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Anne Cambon Thomsen, Emeritus Research Director CNRS, Joint Unit of Epidemiology and Public Health, Inserm and University of Toulouse

Effy Vayena, Professor of Health Policy and Ethics, University of Zurich

Romain Bircher, Deputy Director of Communication and Information Management, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Geneva

Andrej Zwitter, Head of Political Science Department, University of Groningen

Elena Alfaro Martinez, Head of Data & Open innovation, BBVA

Cécile Wendling, Head of Foresight, AXA Group

Aurélie Pols, Data Governance and Privacy Engineer at Mind Your Privacy

Paul-Olivier Dehaye, Co-founder PersonalData.IO

Young Mie Kim, Associate Professor, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA

Antoinette Rouvroy, Research Associate at the Fund for Scientific Research (FNRS), University of Namur

Dirk Helbing, Professor of Computational Social Science

Dino Pedreschi, Professor of Computer Science, University of Pisa - and

Jeroen Van Den Hoven, Professor of Ethics and Technology, Delft University of Technology



EDPS starts work on a New Digital Ethics

Today, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) announced that the work on a new Digital Ethics is ready to begin. The EDPS has launched a broader discussion, both in the EU and globally, on how to ensure the integrity of our values while embracing the benefits of new technologies.



Ethics Advisory Group

European Data Protection Supervisor decision establishing an external advisory group on the ethical dimensions of data protection (‘the Ethics Advisory Group’) OJ C 33, 28.1.2016