Brussels Privacy Convening Focuses on Empowering Vulnerable and Marginalized People, Launches New Project
The Future of Privacy Forum (FPF), a global non-profit focused on data protection and privacy, and the Brussels Privacy Hub of Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB) will jointly present the sixth edition of the Brussels Privacy Symposium on November 15, 2022. The in-person event will convene in Brussels, bringing together policymakers, academic researchers, civil society, and industry representatives to discuss privacy research and scholarship.
In line with this year’s topic, “Vulnerable People, Marginalization, and Data Protection,” participants will explore the extent to which data protection and privacy law — including GDPR and other modern data protection laws like Brazil’s LGPD — safeguard and empower vulnerable and marginalized people. They will also debate how to balance the right to privacy with the need to process sensitive personal information to uncover and prevent bias and marginalization. Stakeholders will discuss whether prohibiting the processing of personal data related to vulnerable people serves as a protection mechanism.
The event marks the launch of “VULNERA,” the International Observatory on Vulnerable People in Data Protection, led by the Brussels Privacy Hub and supported by the Future of Privacy Forum. The observatory aims to promote a mature debate on the multifaceted connotations surrounding the notions of human “vulnerability” and “marginalization” existing in the data protection and privacy domains.
“I’m excited to begin the groundbreaking and much-needed work we have ahead of us,” Gabriela Zanfir-Fortuna, FPF’s Vice President for Global Privacy, said. Zanfir-Fortuna is also a member of VULNERA’s executive team as a Scientific Coordinator, which is joined by more than 30 members of a broad scientific network. “This initiative will focus on understanding how data protection and privacy law puts safeguards in place to protect the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people in societies increasingly underpinned by digital data flows.”
Professor Gianclaudio Malgieri, Co-Director of Brussels Privacy Hub of Vrije Universiteit Brussel added: “The VULNERA International Observatory will explore theories of vulnerability, marginalization, and intersectionality, examining how data protection law and policy apply to people in certain contexts that may be vulnerable or marginalized, such as women, children, people on a low or zero income, racialized communities, and people of color, ethnic and religious groups, migrants, LGBTQIA+ and non-binary people, the elderly, and persons with disabilities,”
Representatives from the European Network Against Racism, Dutch Human Rights Council, European Commission, Irish DPC, European Digital Rights (EDRi), European Data Protection Supervisor, and other relevant organizations will share their expertise during the Brussels Privacy Symposium.
“As we think about the next iteration of the digital age, it’s important that we have a more global consensus on how to protect those who have been historically marginalized,” said Rob van Eijk, FPF’s Managing Director for Europe. “The timing for the launch of VULNERA, and this symposium at-large, could not have been at a more critical juncture.”