The Swedish Data Protection Authority: “It is our job to support privacy innovations”

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Press image: Datainspektionen

– It´s our job to ensure that we, through knowledge-building efforts and in parallel with the new data protection regulation, support innovators’ opportunity and ambition to already from the beginning incorporate the law in the technology. Smart privacy innovations can in the future be an important competitive advantage for both Sweden and the EU, said Lena Lindgren Schelin, Director General of the Swedish Data Protection Authority, at Vinnova’s breakfast meeting on Wednesday morning.

We need laws that protect our integrity and at the same time stimulate the emergence of new Swedish innovations and entrepreneurship – this to promote the technical and economic development of our society. How can we ensure both integrity and competitiveness? Can integrity be the starting point for long-term responsible innovation, where Sweden is leading the way for other countries? Is it possible to see the protection of every person as a long-term competitive advantage?

That was the starting point for the panel discussion and subsequent debate Vinnova arranged during a breakfast in Stockholm. The moderator of the conversation was Jon Simonsson, chairman of the Komet, and panel participants were Lena Lindgren Schelin, Director General of the Swedish Data Protection Authorities, Christian Landgren, CEO and founder of the tech and digitization agency Iteam, and Susanne Ås Sivborg, Director General of Lantmäteriet.

GDPR is an enabler

Susanne Ås Sivborg began by explaining that we might consider GDPR more as an enabler than an obstacle.

Lena Lindgren Schelin saw no contradiction between integrity and innovation.

– You must have a solid foundation if you are going to build a house. You can’t build a house without a foundation. And it will be expensive afterward if you build the house without a building permit. It is the same with technology development. It will be difficult and expensive to try and patch and repair afterward if you haven’t initially thought about the legislation. That is why the law must be built into the technology from the beginning. GDPR is not a prohibition law if you do it in the right order, she explained and continued to comment on the yet-unregulated reality online.

About online privacy protection, she explained:

– I think people and society are starting to react to what we have agreed to on the web. We may not think that it is so positive in the future. Is it reasonable for private actors with a monopoly position to collect more personal data than any law enforcement agency has ever had access to? At the same time, we see the development in China, where all citizens today are mapped into the smallest detail. We need to create a counter-force and maybe try to build our own models in Europe and within the EU.

Law should be built into the technology

On a direct leading question from Fredrik Hammargården, Head of Commercialization at Indivd, if the promotion of innovations should be a part of the Swedish Data Protection Authorities current assignment, Lena Schelin replied:

– It will probably not be included in our assignment, but can still be within the scope of our mission and our assignment to raise knowledge about the new data protection regulation. We should act to support innovators’ opportunities and ambition of incorporating law in technology from the beginning. Smart privacy innovations can be an important competitive advantage for Sweden and the EU in the future.

For more information contact:

Fredrik Hammargården, Head of Commercialization, 004673 840 65 27,

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