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Data for Everything: in Search of Balance of Interests

Session ‘Data for Everything: in Search of Balance if Interests’ took place on the VIII St. Petersburg International Legal Forum. The participants discussed give-and-take between companies’ interests and consumers’ rights, the regulation of big data and the separation of personal data, private life and public information.

The session was attended by Chairman of the Executive Board of Skolkovo Foundation Igor Drozdov, President at the Intellectual Property Court Lyudmila Novoselova, Co-chair of Brussels Privacy Hub at the Virije Universiteit Brussel Christopher Kuner, Senior Partner at Pearl Cohen Zedek Latzer Baratz Anna Moshe, Counsel at Dentons Europe Andrey Neznamov, Head of Government Relations at Megafon Dmitriy Petrov, Managing Partner at IP Center Skolkovo Anton Pushkov, Associate Professor – Senior Research Fellow at the National Research University Higher School of Economics Alexander Savelyev. The discussion was moderated by Executive Director at Non-Profit Partnership For Advancement of Corporate Law Elena Avakyan.

Igor Drozdov started from the challenge of legislative regulation of Big Data. ‘I would say that this is a grey zone. We have a lot of proposals to update the current legislation. But we all should be cautious. The ideas we want to implement should not overturn citizens’ understanding about the current situation. Many companies base their businesses on data, and a change in the legislation may destroy these businesses. We should think how initiatives impact the status-quo. For businessmen stability is more important than any privileges’, said the Head of Skolkovo Foundation.

Alexander Saveliev focused on data regulation in the context of personal privacy. ‘Big data connected with individuals, can be treated by the legislation as personal data, because of their broad definition. Thus, it would make no sense in making a new legal status, because it would entail collisions and selective administration of the law. We should base on amendments to the legislation about personal data’, believes the expert. According to Mr. Saveliev, it is important to make the right choice of a model: American (more liberal), European or Chinese.

‘We should be pragmatic. According to the statics from the Ministry of Economic Development, the EU countries are our main partners. If we are with them, we cannot avoid GDRP’, emphasized the expert. He also added that the legislation on personal data was not about secrecy, it was about control. ‘We live in IT environment, and quite often we make the decision about people online, if we cannot control the data, we cannot control our personality’, summarized Alexander Saveliev.

Christopher Kuner talked about GDRP bill – the general regulation of personal data protection which was adopted in the European Union and would come into force as of 25 May. ‘The EU regulation is deep and influential. For example, the law about personal data – its model is used all over the world. Non-EU members use similar model. More than 120 countries use the EU approach about data protection. It has become the most influential bill in 20 years’, said the representative of the Brussels University.

The expert explained that when adopting a bill two reasons should be taken into consideration: legal and political. As for the legal reason, it implies that individual rights are firmly enshrined in the constitutional right of the EU. Political reason implies the use of big data for peaceful purposes.

Dmitriy Petrov draw the participants’ attention not just to the right of those whose data are used, but also to the rights of platforms that aggregate these data. ‘Mr. Drozdov talked about the most dangerous for business approach, according to which the data in social networks are public and they should be used for business development. Why is it dangerous? We know that digital economy is based on data. New information platforms are supposed to be established, and with the help of these platforms we will see the progress. We see that they make the economy of new type. What do we have to face to? To companies that monetize data, and now we just ask them to give us these data. Are there any other networks except Vkontakte and Odnoklassniki that monetize data? They are not so many, because big data are dead data, they bring no benefits unless they are processed. And it is this processing that is done by digital platforms. And they are comfortable as they are. And all of a sudden we just come and say: thank you, now we take it away and use as we like it. It destroys the basis of digital economy, believes the expert.

Counsel at Dentons Europe Andrey Neznamov touched upon the issue of artificial intelligence regulation. ‘How artificial intelligence can be regulated? Unmanned vehicules are not so many: Tesla and Yandex. If something happens it will be regarded as an accident – it’s clear. We cannot notice it but we are overswept with the wave of new technologies. Look at your smartphone – voice help is a manifestation of artificial intelligence, like networks. The company where you work may be listed at stock exchanges. Or you may be listed. Right now shares are processed by robots and they probably crash the market as they did five years ago. We all know that the planes are controlled by automatic pilots, but it is also the same for Sapsan for 90% of the travel. Cyberphysic system generates a huge amount of data and the life of the cyberphysic systems is based on data’, he said.

To summarize the discussion Elena Avakyan quoted Rotschild: ‘Who owns the information, he owns the world’. ‘Today we may say who owns the data, he owns the world’.