€3.7m EU data protection project for Waterford


A €3.7 MILLION EU-wide project aimed at improving data protection in Europe is to be led by researchers from Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT).

The Endorse project involves industry experts from the Netherlands, Italy, the UK, Spain, Austria and Ireland. Over the next year those involved hope to develop software that will allow companies to check compliance with their own country’s data protection legislation.

According to Paul Malone, Endorse project leader and researcher with WIT’s telecommunications software and systems group, the project will develop a “privacy rule language” that will allow organisations to input their policy and compare it to local law. This will make it easier for them to identify policies that fall short of legal requirements.

It is hoped that the software will be made public by September 2012.

“Our aim is to write instances of the [country’s] legislation in the language and make it open source,” he said. “Somebody in-house might have their own range of controlling databases they would have to write in and it would flag a policy that will break Irish law.”

As the completed software will be open source this will make it easier and cheaper for companies wishing to make it fit with software they already use, he said. He added that the aim was to create an open source community around it by the time the Endorse project was completed.

“Part of our thing is to build up the software community of developers so there is sustainability beyond the 13 months of the project,” said Malone. “Often times these things are developed as open source but because there is no one working on them they are left idle once the main work is done.”

The final software should also make it easier for organisations to show a customer the information they hold on them and how it is used. Companies are already obliged to do this under EU law and in many cases requests are handled manually, making it expensive and laborious.

An automated system made possible through Endorse would allow customers to simply log into a website to see instantly the details themselves.