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Communications of the ACM

Europe Region Special Section: Big trends

The European Perspective on Responsible Computing

Marienplatz Square in Munich, illustration

Credit: Shutterstock

We live in the digital world, where every day we interact with digital systems either through a mobile device or from inside a car. These systems are increasingly autonomous in making decisions over and above their users or on behalf of them. As a consequence, ethical issues—privacy ones included (for example, unauthorized disclosure and mining of personal data, access to restricted resources)—are emerging as matters of utmost concern since they affect the moral rights of each human being and have an impact on the social, economic, and political spheres.

Europe is at the forefront of the regulation and reflections on these issues through its institutional bodies. Privacy with respect to the processing of personal data is recognized as part of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. Regulation (EC) 45/2001 establishes the rules for data protection in the EU institutions and the creation of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) as independent supervisory authority to monitor and ensure people's right to privacy when EU institutions and bodies process their personal data. The European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (EGE) is an independent advisory body of the President of the European Commission that advises on all aspects of Commission policies and legislation where ethical, societal, and fundamental rights dimensions intersect with the development of science and new technologies. In 2015, the EDPS appointed the Ethics Advisory Group (EAG) "to explore the relationships between human rights, technology, markets, and business models in the 21st century."


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