Paul de Hert and Vagelis Papakonstantinou have just published their latest article, «Framing Big Data in the Council of Europe and the EU data protection law systems: Adding ‘should’ to ‘must’ via soft law to address more than only individual harms» in the Computer Law & Security Review, Volume 40.
On 19 November 2019 the Council of Europe hosted an international conference, immediately preceding the annual plenary meeting of its Committee of Convention 108, on “Convention 108+ and the future data protection global standard”. One of the authors made a presentation on “Comparing the EU and Council of Europe approach to Big Data”, and it is its contents and findings that are further elaborated in this paper; Its aim is, in essence, to incorporate the feedback received and to adapt past research on Big Data, that was mostly relevant to the EU, also on the Council of Europe data protection system. After a few preliminary remarks on Big Data terminology and possible regulatory approaches, Big Data regulation is examined against the EU and the Council of Europe data protection systems. Particular emphasis is given to the Council of Europe regulatory approach both in terms of Convention 108+ and with regard to its Guidelines on Big Data and AI. The authors believe that, because both the EU and the Council of Europe have avoided to refer to Big Data in their basic data protection regulatory texts (a most likely intentional omission), guidance is indeed needed, and it may well come in the form of soft law. The Council of Europe has taken the lead in this through its Guidelines; Their timely, comprehensive and balanced approach showcases the Council’s will for such processing to indeed take place, but within a well-regulated environment, albeit not under a rigid regulatory construction.