Data Protection, Freedoms and the Environment: Exploring the Overlaps in the CNIL's 9th IP Report.
The CNIL’s 9th IP report, entitled “Data, Footprints and Freedoms”, is meant to explore the overlaps between data protection, freedoms, and the environment. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and French Data Protection Act (Loi Informatique et Libertés) seek to protect personal data by minimizing it and using it sparingly. So, then, can these laws also help protect the environment? The report seeks to answer this complex question, and provide recommendations on how to reconcile the two objectives. It looks at what environmental footprints digital technology have – both negative and positive – and how to mitigate any potential problems. The report asserts that in order for digital technology and data protection to become eco-friendly, improvements need to be made to data analytics technologies, such as machine learning models, to reduce energy consumption and related emissions. Machine learning models should focus on resource management, promoting reuse and optimizing usage of infrastructure like servers and cloud computing systems. Moreover, algorithms should be designed to preserve resources and increase the efficiency of data processing operations.The report further discusses how to create a sustainable digital economy while preserving security and privacy, and provides suggestions on how companies can shift towards more eco-friendly measures. For instance, companies could recalibrate their strategies to reduce dependence on data, instead prioritizing accuracy and reliability of results, or by promoting minimal data collection and use with effective user consent. The report also encourages national legislators and authorities to revise privacy policies in an effort to combat climate change.Overall, the CNIL report seeks to bridge the gap between data protection and environmental awareness, offering solutions to incentivize sustainability. It stresses the importance of coordinating efforts from public and private actors, and suggests new methods to combine and implement best practices.