A Principled Approach to Data Protection Risk Balancing

Data is necessary for information, and information is necessary for knowledge.  Knowledge can be used to advance as well as hinder individuals’ rights and interests.  The individuals’ right to autonomy needs to be balanced with other interests that individuals, society, organizations, and government have.  Data turned into information may have value to the person to whom the data pertains, but that information also may be impactful on a whole population of individuals that share attributes.  Data protection analysis usually is focused on the data user and the data subject, but there are a full range of interests and stakeholders that should factor into that analysis.  

The IAF “Risk of What” project examined the dimension of risks to those stakeholders and how different stakeholders’ risks could be graphically represented.  Since 2015, the IAF has conducted numerous projects on assessments.  Starting in early 2020, the IAF team has been exploring the application of the proportionality principle.  In doing so, the IAF brought the findings from the other projects together to analyze a principles-based approach to risk balancing.  The IAF’s newly published paper, “A Principled Approach to Risk and Interest Balancing – Multi-Dimensional Proportionality,” explains that the meaning of proportionality in the private sector is broader than it is in the public sector because many more factors need to be considered and weighed.  The “Multi-Dimensional Proportionality” Project is an ongoing project so as to continue to give depth and dimension to the proportionality principle in the private sector.  This project will continue into 2023.