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An equal commitment – All EU citizens have the right to understand data protection

It is no longer news that technology is developing at an incredible rate, and that new technological products are adopted faster than ever before. While it took 25 years for telephones to penetrate 10 percent of the United States market, tablets reached the same adoption rate within less than five years.

Although technological innovation has a tremendously positive effect on the lives of many, the risks associated with the ubiquity of technological tools are often underestimated, particularly by the most vulnerable groups in society. An online consultation developing by Inclusion Europe and its partners in the SafeSurfing Project revealed that most people with intellectual disabilities are unaware of the dangers they face when sharing their personal information online. Their parents and carers have also reported that many persons with intellectual disabilities had difficulties understanding the terms and conditions of using certain software and applications, not fully comprehending services they were subscribing to, and also receiving online abuse because of their disability.

Therefore, on the European Data Protection Day, SafeSurfing partners are calling on European Union policy-makers to take into account the needs of people with intellectual disabilities when deciding on the wording of the draft General Data Protection Regulation. Inclusion Europe and its partners welcome the emphasis on informed consent, transparency and privacy by design, and particularly on the need of users to consciously agree or disagree with data processing. Moreover, SafeSurfing partners fully agree with users receiving free and easy to understand information on how their data is being processed. However, what is easy to comprehend for one person could prove to be quite difficult for another. Therefore, people with intellectual disabilities would need to be provided such information in an accessible, easy-to-read format, following the European Standards for Making Information Easy to Read and Understand. Presenting information in such a manner would not only benefit people with intellectual disabilities, but also children or older people. Read more

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Safe Surfing – People with intellectual disabilites to get training on data protection

Identity fraud, cybercrime, cyberbullying – all dangers we knowingly or unknowingly face when simply using the Internet. With 17 per cent of Europeans falling victim to identity theft every year, data protection is a major problem for all European citizens, and particularly for people with intellectual disabilities.

While the use of technological tools was one area which people with intellectual disabilities were particularly excluded from, the past years have luckily seen a major increase in people with an intellectual disability using technology to live more independently and more included in society.  Whether to keep in contact with friends, find information online, or search for job opportunities, using the Internet and mobile applications greatly benefits people with intellectual disabilities in all aspects of their lives. Unfortunately, it also puts them at a much higher risk than the general population.  Whether due to major difficulties in obtaining valid legal consent from people with intellectual disabilities, problems with understanding redress mechanisms, or even the simple fact that accessing easy-to-read information could identify a user as having an intellectual disability, people with intellectual disabilities are more vulnerable online, and more prone to suffering abuse.

“People using online banking and other websites might not know where the information they have given has gone. It worries me a lot and I can’t stop worrying,” said Ismail Kaji, who has an intellectual disability and is a Parliamentary Affairs Assistant at Mencap.  “People online can pretend to be a company and get information from people. This makes me feel unsafe. It is hard, I don’t know who to speak to or where to go for support,” he added.

Therefore, Inclusion Europe, together with partners working in four other European countries, has launched an ambitious project aimed at training people with intellectual disabilities on data protection and on safe online behavior. It is crucial for the latter to be provided with the personal support and knowledge they need to decide what information they want to share with others. Therefore, within the framework of the SafeSurfing project, partners will reach more than 1000 people with intellectual disabilities directly, by using interactive online training sessions that offer participants the possibility of asking questions in real time. Moreover, thousands more could benefit from the five training videos on several areas of data protection that will be produced and shared by SafeSurfing Partners. Read more

Click here for the UK version.