Attempts at influencing or distorting elections in the United States and other countries, including some European Union Member States, have drawn attention to what is commonly referred to as ‘fake news’, or false news posing as factual stories. Although the phenomenon of generating misleading news stories is at least as old as the printing press, the growth of social media has led to a very significant proliferation of this phenomenon. Some outlets use deceitful headlines and content to boost readership, in a search for higher advertising revenue. Other sources, often sponsored by certain state actors, are accused of spreading ‘fake news’ for entirely political ends. In March 2018, the European Commission published the Final Report of the High Level Expert Group on Fake News and Online Disinformation, which proposes ways to combat the phenomenon. In April a Commission communication followed, entitled ‘Tackling online disinformation: a European Approach.’
In the context of the comprehensive reform of the EU’s legal framework for data protection, the Commission tabled a proposal in January 2017 for a ‘regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data by the Union institutions, bodies, offices and agencies and the free movement of such data’ and repealing the existing one (Regulation No 45/2001). The aim is to align it to the 2016 General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that has been fully applicable since 25 May 2018. Interinstitutional trilogue meetings, in which debate focused on also applying the regulation to operational data of EU bodies carrying out law enforcement activities, brought an agreement between the co-legislators in May. The compromise text is due to be voted by the Parliament in the September plenary session.
The conference will be dedicated to the discussions on the implementation of the GDPR, ePrivacy, international data flows, the Internet of Things and best practices.