The Slovenia Times

Panel warns about pitfalls of digital data

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The online debate, organised by the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Public Administration Ministry, Technology Park Ljubljana and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), heard Prelesnik call for the identification and promotion of the best practices and an inclusive search for solutions to data processing dilemmas.

Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik highlighted the importance of data as the raw material for the development of smart applications, smart cities, for science and artificial intelligence (AI). Data also contributes to more transparent public administration and helps develop digital public service and the digital economy.

While Koritnik added that digitalisation and AI were among the priorities of the current trio of EU presiding countries, Ulla Hudina-Kmetič of the European Commission Representation Office in Slovenia said the EU wished to become a model and a leading force in the field of data society. At the same time it wants to preserve rights and privacy.

"The European strategy for data puts citizens at the centre," she said, adding the EU's approach to AI also wants to build on trust and excellence.

AI expert Ivan Bratko highlighted examples of ethically dubious data use, saying there is no effective regulatory framework to address them. Data can be used to change opinions and manipulate people for commercial as well as political purposes.

Deputy Information Commission Andrej Tomšič agreed big data is an issue, as is the anonymisation of data, which is sometimes not possible.

Philosopher Olga Markič noted that introducing ethical standards in the EU is difficult, as values still vary among member states, while Aleš Završnik of the Ljubljana Law Faculty added that the proclamations of high ideals in connection with data processing and AI are not being reflected in reality.

Završnik however also pointed to the potential of data to strengthen civil society, as has been the case with Erar, an online application with detailed information on financial transactions by the state and state-owned bodies, and Parlameter, a tool tracking the work of MPs.

These tools have been helpful for journalists, but Lenart J. Kučič, a technology journalist, warned that data taken out of context can also be abused.

While urging the promotion of greater data literacy, Kučič would like to see data, when there is no very good reason against this, open to journalists as a tool allowing analysis. He also called for the protection of whistleblowers.


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