28 January 2024 is European Data Protection Day. It was on this day in 1981 that the Data Protection Treaty was signed, laying the foundations for privacy as we know it today.
Data protection laws exist for the benefit of citizens, you and me. In different capacities: as employees, as students and as citizens in society. Different interests, but a common goal: everyone wants their data to be handled securely and responsibly.
Tools based on artificial intelligence (AI) are being used in your daily life and, increasingly, in our professional environment. An interesting example is the use of ChatGPT. In principle, it is a nice tool, but when it comes to the protection of personal data, its use is not without its problems. Do you know where the information you enter goes? Who can see it and use it? And is the information you get out of it accurate?
Besides ChatGPT, there are many other examples of AI, and some uses carry more risk than others. For the average citizen, the risks are not always clear. To protect citizens, legislation is being drafted at European level to regulate the risks posed by the use of AI, the AI Act. The first steps in the legislative process have been taken and the law is expected to come into force in 2026.
Here are a few privacy tips to keep in mind:
1. Always think carefully before you share your data: is it a trusted party? And do they need it?
2. This is at least as important when working with other people's personal information: treat it as carefully as you would want them to treat your information.
3. Don't just look at the opportunities that technologies like ChatGPT bring, be aware of the risks. So do not use personal information when working with such tools.
4. Always take care of your equipment: it is still common for laptops to be stolen on trains or from parked cars. Never leave your equipment unattended, even in a locked car.
5. Computer viruses are increasingly being used to collect personal information from you. Make sure your virus scanner is up to date, and if your device does not have one, get one (e.g. from Surfspot).
6. As a VU employee, you can use SURF's EduVPN free of charge. This creates a closed and secure network connection over an existing network.
If you have specific questions about privacy and personal data protection, you can contact the various privacy officers within the VU: Privacy Champions - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (vu.nl)
Each department or faculty has appointed a privacy champion who can be contacted for questions. You can find out who this is by visiting Privacy Champions - Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (vu.nl).
For complex issues, please contact the lawyers and legal experts from Institutional and Legal Affairs at email@example.com.
For complaints or inquiries regarding your privacy rights, you can contact the internal Data Protection Officer: firstname.lastname@example.org.