European Trade Union Institute, ETUI.

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Panel 13: Data protection for employees

Tuesday 28 June, 14:00-15:30

Nearly every process of production and service is shaped by hardware and software, internet applications, cloud storage, and so on. Thus it is not only machine data used within new business models; workers' personal data also form part of the data processing.

Some people even say that data is the new oil, in the sense that new business models are ‘digging’ for data, using it for ‘data mining’ and selling it figuratively on stock markets. But is it really a ‘digital revolution’ we are facing now? Or is it just a normal economic development through technological innovation?

The use of data within the EU has, in general, been regulated lately. After more than five years of consultation, negotiation and amendment discussions, the European Parliament voted on the ‘General Data Protection Regulation’ in 2016. Many big players in the internet industry were lobbying against this regulation because it would hamper their business in Europe. Unions and NGOs were against the regulation because it would restrict employees’ rights and participation.

So how will this regulation shape employees' data protection in the workplace? Will there be an effective data protection officer at work sites? Are workers’ personal data safer now?


  • Jan Philip Albrecht, member European Parliament, Group of the Greens/European Free Alliance 
  • Clara Fritsch, GPA-djp, Austria.
  • Eva Souhrada-Kirchmayer, Council of Europe - PRESENTATION

Moderator: Kathleen Walker-Shaw, GMB-UK

Read the short summary of this panel debate.

For further reading:

the Austrian Trade Union Federations opinion to the EU-Commissions consultation on the GDPR (only in German)

the ETUC's response to the Communication from the Commission “A comprehensive approach on personal data protection in the European Union”

Recommendation of the Committee of Ministers to member States on the processing of personal data in the context of employment (Adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 1 April 2015, at the 1224th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies)

Explanatory Memorandum

Next: Panel 14: Amazon

Previous: Panel 12: Work place innovation in the second machine age

Interpretation will be available.

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