Will the GDPR change the approach to scientific
By Dr Agnieszka Chidlow, Birmingham Business School, The University of Birmingham
Since 25 May 2018, the European Union (EU) Parliament and Council enforced the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as the primary law regulating how companies protect EU citizen’s personal data. Any organisations that are not compliant will face heavy fines. But what does the GDPR mean for scientific and statistical research?
It is worth noting that, the Regulation treats the processing of personal data for scientific and statistical research separately, for example:
1) For scientific research it points out that “the processing of personal data for scientific research purposes should be interpreted in a broad manner including for example technological development and demonstration, fundamental research, applied research and privately funded research (...) To meet the specificities of processing personal data for scientific research purposes, specific conditions should apply in particular as regards the publication or otherwise disclosure of personal data in the context of scientific research purposes (Recital 159, p.30)”. Even though not explicitly stated, these “specific conditions” may refer to ethical standards for scientific research (Recital 33) as well as all listed safeguards.
2) For statistical research it indicates that “where personal data are processed for statistical purposes the Union or Member State law should, within the limits of the Regulation, determine statistical content, control of access, specifications for the processing of personal data for statistical purposes and appropriate measures to safeguard the rights and freedoms of the data subject and for ensuring statistical confidentiality. Statistical purposes mean any operation of collection and the processing of personal data necessary for statistical surveys or for the production of statistical results. Those statistical results may further be used for different purposes, including a scientific research purpose. The statistical purpose implies that the result of processing for statistical purposes is not personal data, but aggregate data, and that this result or the personal data are not used in support of measures or decisions regarding any particular natural person (Recital 162, p.30)”.
Even though the GDPR creates very strict obligations for processing and collecting personal data for scientific and statistical research, it offers some exemptions as part of its mandate to enable a Digital Single Market across the EU. More specifically, by allowing researchers to process data beyond the purpose for which it was first collected, the Regulation exempts research from the principle of storage and purpose limitation. What is more, in limited circumstances, it also allows researchers to process sensitive data without a consent as well as to transfer personal data to third countries that do not provide an adequate level of protection.
However, it is rather unclear as to how exactly such exemptions will extend. But what is clear is the fact that the GDPR aims to encourage innovation as long as researchers implement the appropriate safeguards, as stated in Article 89 (page 84) of the Data Protection Act.
By Prof. Rajneesh Narula OBE, Henley Business School
The run-up to Brexit Day has been a windfall for the chattering classes. We have known since June that this day must come, and thousands of commentators – perhaps millions, if you include the discussions in living rooms and pubs across Europe – have visualised and considered the various possible shapes Brexit might finally take; what would be gained and what might be lost, and how the future of Britain in the 21st century might unfold after B-Day.
Non-Europeans are quite bewildered by the number of column inches and minutes devoted to Brexit in our newspapers, online fora and broadcast news. B-Day is still a subject for fantasy: there is even less clarity as to the UK government’s position. In short, uncertainty still abounds, and this reflects itself in the value of the Pound against most currencies. That there is so much difficulty agreeing on a withdrawal agreement does not bode well for the actual negotiations, because almost every aspect of life is shaped by the intensity of the embrace from which the UK wishes to extricate itself. Converting hundreds of years of formal and informal treaties and institutional arrangements into new law is mind-bogglingly difficult. Article 50 is a harbinger of mirthless days for all, with the possible exception of lawyers and consultants.
It is a matter of incredulity to the rest of Europe that Brexit is not some practical joke, and I say the ‘rest of Europe’ because these islands will remain part of Europe, and two millennia of interaction will not suddenly stop on ‘moving-out’ Wednesday. Indeed, there is no moving-out: The UK, like some petulant teenager, is simply giving formal notice of relocation two years hence (but like all teenagers he feels he can demand things without considering the quid pro quo).
But here lies the rub: this is not a petulant teenager leaving home, but the legal divorce of long-married couple who have a wide variety of common property, offspring, shared interests and responsibility, and a lot of history.
To the outside observer, the UK has painted itself as the much-wronged and misunderstood teenager, while the EU has portrayed itself as the unappreciated and long-suffering spouse who is being dumped in an acrimonious and public breakup. These two contrasting views that continue to be propagated by either side assure us of a convoluted and discordant two-year negotiation. The teenager feels confident that its (estranged) extended family in the form of the commonwealth will clutch the prodigal cousin tightly to their bosom. Alas, it is already clear that Empire 2.0 is fantasy. On the other hand, the EU knows where it stands: its position is clear. The deck, to use another tired metaphor, is stacked firmly in their favour, and they know it. That they offered a Soft Brexit shortly after the referendum was a kindness, but in its spurning, little has been gained except Trump-like hubris and ill-will.
B- Day brings to mind that other famous British folly, The Charge of the Light Brigade.
I hope 29 March 2019 proves me wrong.