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ETHICAL - An International Dialogue on Modern Data Use

The term ETHICAL is the acronym for "Promoting International Debate on Ethical Implications of Data collection, use and retention for Biometric and Medical Applications". The projects' mission is to be an effective mechanism for societal partners’ engagement in enhancing the debate on ethical implications of data collection, use and retention in medical and biometric applications, in order to create a consensus and a roadmap towards a secure environment and simultaneously no compromise in human rights respect.

ETHICAL - An International Dialogue on Modern Data Use

ETHICAL - Promoting International Debate on Ethical Implications of Data collection, use and retention for Biometric and Medical Applications

This debate on the ethics of data collection, use and retention in medical and biometric applications must be launched now, because the quality and the quantity of usage of medical and in particular genetic data as well as of biometric markers is fast evolving everywhere in Europe and worldwide.

The aspects of privacy that are effected by the protection of data are crucial both in the area of biometric and health applications. Today’s networked environments change the reference framework for privacy. Whilst innovative information and communication services are constantly improving people’s lives and generate growth throughout the global economy, they also create new risks. The crucial issue of protecting personal data becomes more complex. Processing personal data over distributed networks poses the threat of misuse. What should be defined as minimum and optimal standards to preserve privacy and how technology can assist in the protection of integrity and privacy of data are critical questions.

The lack of harmonisation and standardisation of international ethical principles has the potential to lead to the abuse of data collection, use and retention by exploiting differences between societies with regard to established ethical standards. These developments raise various problems affecting the daily life of more and more citizens and therefore answers are needed.

Often achievements in emerging fields of medicine and technology will be “moving targets” for legislation since the fast progress may raise societal questions, which need to mature – with the support of ethics – before legislation can be defined, agreed and adopted.

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