The GDPR does not include specific provisions related to societal and environmental well-being. However, Article 5(1)(b) states that “personal data shall be collected for specific, explicit and legitimate purposes”. Through this clause, the GDPR introduces the concept of legitimacy in the data protection context.
However, legitimacy is a fuzzy concept that is not at all defined by the GDPR (see “Lawfulness, fairness and transparency principle” within Part II section “Principles” of these Guidelines). The Article 29 Working Party states that it “means that the purposes must be ‘in accordance with the law’ in the broadest sense. This includes all forms of written and common law, primary and secondary legislation, municipal decrees, judicial precedents, constitutional principles, fundamental rights, other legal principles, as well as jurisprudence, as such ‘law’ would be interpreted and taken into account by competent courts.” Therefore, it must be understood as a very broad concept that embeds social and environmental well-being considerations.
In the ‘White paper on artificial intelligence: a European approach to excellence and trust’, the authors note that “[g]iven the increasing importance of AI, the environmental impact of AI systems needs to be duly considered throughout their lifecycle and across the entire supply chain, e.g. as regards resource usage for the training of algorithms and the storage of data”.
Further concrete recommendations for AI development that are oriented to societal and environmental well-being can be found in the ‘Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European economic and social committee: report on the safety and liability implications of artificial intelligence, the internet of things and robotics’. This kind of ethical recommendations should be carefully considered by AI developers before processing personal data, since they are clearly linked to their legitimacy.
1European Commission (2020) White Paper on artificial intelligence: a European approach to excellence and trust. European Commission, Brussels, p.3. Availableat: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/commission-white-paper-artificial-intelligence-feb2020_en.pdf (accessed 26 May 2020). ↑
2European Commission (2020) Report from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council and the European economic and social committee: report on the safety and liability implications of artificial intelligence, the internet of things and robotics. European Commission, Brussels. Available at: https://ec.europa.eu/info/sites/info/files/report-safety-liability-artificial-intelligence-feb2020_en_1.pdf (accessed 26 May 2020). ↑