Startups at the center of the privacy debate: deep dive into the EDPS Conference.

June 30, 2022
EDPS Conference

We participated in the European Data Protection Supervisor 2022 Conference!, where we reaffirmed that the privacy debate in Europe is still heated. Our question is: where are the startups?

The European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) is the independent EU authority that ensures all European institutions and agencies respect the fundamental right to the protection of personal data. A couple of weeks ago, the EPDS and stakeholders convened in Brussels to discuss the effectiveness of the GDPR, the most important rulebook for the protection of the privacy of European citizens. 

Speakers ranging from Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, privacy activist Maximilian Schrems, and MEP Axel Voss, were called in to debate in particular on the topic of GDPR enforcement. One of the major results of this discussion, as the appointed EDPS Mr. Wojciech Wiewiórowski specified, is that the GDPR should have been more efficient in the enforcement stage. He argued that this can be improved by moving toward a more centralized approach to addressing complaints. 

But where are the startups? In the midst of all the panels, discussions, and conversations startups did not figure in the overall agenda. As the EDPS also acknowledged, the burden of the GDPR has weighed the most on the smallest actors. 

The GDPR was designed with the aim to protect the rights and freedom of individuals but also to create a level playing field for entities, no matter their size, to fairly process personal data. We think now is the moment to reconsider whether both these objectives have been achieved and to what extent.

Startups’ participation in the data protection public debate benefits everyone. As privacy has become a priority for users and consumers, startups have followed suit in making it central to their products and services. 

When considering improvements to the GDPR framework, we encourage policymakers to put startups at the center of the debate. In doing so, they can ensure a level playing field that will protect European citizens’ privacy while allowing innovation to thrive and deliver the green and digital transitions policymakers are after. In the next edition of the EDPS Conference, we would like to see startups take center stage!