Irish researchers to urge EU-wide policy on data at Brussels seminar

Irish delegation to call for framework to balance privacy concerns against innovation

Irish data researchers are proposing a European Union “magna carta for data” that would create a new a new policy and legislative framework for data ethics and use across the bloc’s member states.

A high-level delegation of Irish data researchers and university representatives are due to attend a two-day seminar in Brussels next week at which they will call for a new framework for balancing public concerns over privacy infringements against the need for socially beneficial innovations in the burgeoning field of data analytics which, it is claimed, are currently being hampered by stringent privacy laws.

Hosted by Science Foundation Ireland’s Insight Centre for Data Analytics, the seminar on Tuesday and Wednesday hopes to engage with the new European Commission early in its policy cycle. Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy will launch the two-day event.

The delegation will include NUI Galway president Dr James Browne, DCU president Prof Brian MacCraith, University College Cork president Michael Murphy and Insight chief executive Oliver Daniels.


Industry representatives from the aviation, financial services, health and security sectors will also attend, as will MEPs, EU commissioners and civil servants.

Launched in late 2013, Insight is an industry-facing funding scheme by which grants are matched by industry cash and in-kind assistance.

It funds more than 350 researchers and is one of the largest data analytics centres in Europe, perhaps second only to Germany's Fraunhofer Institute.

Insight brought together existing data research centres in UCD, DCU, UCC and NUI Galway; and brought in mathematicians and statisticians such as Prof Brendan Murphy and Prof Nial Friel.

According to Prof Murphy: "In the much-hyped big data age we are dealing with databases storing gigabytes, terabytes and beyond. The old methods simply don't scale up to these volumes of data."