Drones, privacy and policing to feature at Dublin rights conference

Privacy activists and international experts will discuss issues around digital privacy and security at the inaugural Digital Rights Europe conference in Dublin on Wednesday.

The conference organised by Digital Rights Ireland (DRI) will explore issues such as policing and the use of body cameras, surveillance technology, social media, drone technology, and the use of mobile phone video both by law enforcement and bystanders

Minister for Data Protection Dara Murphy will open the conference at the Grand Canal Hotel on Wednesday morning.

Other speakers include Brian Honan, a special advisor on internet security to Europol’s cybercrime centre and Elizabeth Knight, legal director at the UK’s Open Rights Group, who will speak about the legislative framework in light of Edward Snowden’s revelations of mass US government surveillance.

Barrister Joseph Dalby and John Wright of Flightpath will discuss the privacy, data protection and ethical issues that arise with the use of drones by public and private sector bodies.

Digital Rights Ireland director and law lecturer Dr TJ McIntyrewill speak on the legal and civil rights issues presented by filtering or blocking of websites on copyright, ethical and legal grounds.

Solicitor Simon McGarr, who represented Digital Rights Ireland in the Europe v Facebook case before the European Court of Justice, will speak on regulation, litigation and the rise of fundamental rights.

Barrister Fergal Crehan will examine data protection guarantees in Irish law and Elizabeth Fitzgerald will speak on technical competence, responsibilities in protecting clients’ information, and minimising risk for legal practitioners.

Other speakers include Sadhbh McCarthy, director of the Centre for Irish and European Security, criminologist Dr Pete Fussey of the University of Essex, Dr Mark Maguire of Maynooth University, and Lieutenant Alan Kearney, a Hume Scholar at NUIM.

Digital Rights Ireland, a non-governmental organisation, has been involved in several prominent cases, including a challenge to the entire EU framework allowing the retention of phone and internet data for up to two years.

Its action led to the striking down of the 2006 European Data Retention Directive by the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg in April last year.

The court found the legislation was a “wide-ranging and particularly serious interference with the fundamental right to privacy” which would result in “private lives being the subject of constant surveillance”.

DRI is bringing a constitutional challenge against the Irish government in relation to its policy of retaining internet and telephone records on the entire population.

It also acted as amicus, or ‘friend of the court’ in the high-profile Europe v Facebook case taken by Austrian student Max Schrems against the refusal of Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner to investigate alleged transfers of personal information to the US security services by the social media company.

A decision by the European Court of Justice in that case is expected later in the year. It is likely to have major implications for the European Commission-approved regime under which personal data is currently transferred by many EU-based companies to the US.

Camilla Wood

UK based Legal Aid Lawyer

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