DTL Talks: Raegan MacDonald, Senior Policy Manager, EU Principal at Mozilla

26 Feb 2017
Raegan MacDonald talks about Mozilla's transparency positioning in Brussels

Brussels, Belgium

Why is transparency important?

Transparency is a key ingredient for building any system that has accountability built into it, so it's very difficult for instance for citizens to hold any company or any government accountable if they don't actually know what's going on. In regards to privacy and transparency it's also a key element to empower and inform and educate users to take control over their digital lives.

What are the last trends related to data transparency?

There are a lot of emerging trends with transparency. At Mozilla, we're really happy to see more and more companies coming forward with data transparency reports which explain for instance law enforcement access, among other things. I think a key trend in transparency is also backing up what transparency actually means, so dumping a whole bunch of data online doesn't necessarily mean that it's useful, so I think there's a difference between making information and turning that into knowledge and just having data available. So, what we are encouraging and certainly encouraged to see in these trends around data transparency is more meaningful information and knowledge that's getting to the user.

Which innovation opportunities brings the General Data Protection Regulation globally?

The GDPR offers a lot of areas for innovation on privacy and data protection, one in terms of its international impact, in that it's a regulation, and binding on an entire content on these 28 member states. It has a standard setting element which we know that other countries will look to and hopefully draw inspiration from. In terms of innovations I think there's two areas in which it can benefit users and improve the practices of companies, first on the user side. The GDPR strengthens and gives a lot more rights to individuals over access to their personal data and control over the personal data such as data portability, access and erasure which we think really puts them in the driver seat. That is extremely important and increasingly important in an age of ubiquitous computing. For companies the new obligations that are strengthened would require them to be much more transparent around the processing and collection of their data including making the information about how their information is collected, for instance through privacy policies or terms of service, much more clear and understandable to the user, so in the end they really have meaningful information about what is happening to their data and clear choices about what they can do down to better protect their data.

From your perspective in Brussels, what do you think could be the most significant challenges and developments in the field of personal data transparency online?

I think a constant challenge between data and transparency, and law and transparency is this constant tension between how quickly technology evolves and how slow the legal process can be. And so, it's always really important to craft any policy or any laws that have better future proof in a way that are looking forward and so, we appreciate the GDPR for that in the sense that it lays down a principle-based approach to how to collect data, how to raise the bar on how to treat that data, for instance by introducing privacy by design and privacy by default.

Which are your current projects involving data privacy and transparency?

For us here in Brussels one of our major areas of focus on the policy front will be the review of the reform of the e-privacy regulation as well as like most companies gearing up for the implementation and the enforcement of the GDPR. We also released last month our new version of Focus which is our iOS privacy browser and which now comes in 24 different languages.