European Data Protection Day: All EU citizens have the right to understand data protection 

mencap_logoDisability charities across Europe call for Easy Read guidance on Data Protection Regulation

Today, on European Data Protection Day, a group of disability charities are calling on European Union policy-makers to create Easy Read guidance for people with a learning disability on the draft General Data Protection Regulation. The new regulation plans to unify data protection within the European Union with a single law.

This call is part of Inclusion Europe’s SafeSurfing project, which is aimed at training people with a learning disability on staying safe online and data protection. Inclusion Europe is working in partnership with organisations in four European countries, including the UK’s leading learning disability charity, Mencap.

An online consultation for the SafeSurfing project revealed that most people with a learning disability are unaware of the dangers they face when sharing their personal information online. Their parents and carers have also reported that many people with a learning disability had problems understanding terms and conditions when using certain software and applications, fully comprehending the services they were subscribing to, and also receiving online abuse because of their disability.

Technology is developing at an incredible rate and new products are being adopted faster than ever before. It took 25 years for telephones to penetrate 10% of the United States market, yet tablets reached the same rate within less than five years. While technological innovation has a tremendously positive effect on the lives of many, the risks associated with the presence of technological tools are often underestimated, particularly by the most vulnerable groups in society.

Amy Clarke has a learning disability. She is a digital assistant at Mencap and is working on the SafeSurfing project. Amy says:

“I feel that accessibility is very important. All sorts of people need to understand how to use the internet safely so Easy Read guides are vital. I think it’s important to stay safe online and not to reveal too much information about yourself. Otherwise people can hack into your accounts and you can be attacked by cyber bullies.”

In the draft General Data Protection Regulation, the Safesurfing partners welcome the emphasis on informed consent, transparency and privacy by design, particularly on the need of users to consciously agree or disagree with data processing.  Moreover, the partners fully agree with users receiving free and easy to understand information on how their data is being processed, in-line with the European Standards for Making Information Easy to Read and Understand.

Geert Freyhoff, Inclusion Europe Director, adds:

“What is easy to understand for one person could prove to be quite difficult for another. People with intellectual disabilities would need information on data protection to be in an accessible, easy-to-read format. This would not only benefit people with intellectual disabilities, but also children or older people.”

“There are many ways to protect someone’s personal data, and by training more than 1,000 people with intellectual disability on how to stay safe online, the SafeSurfing project is doing its part. Now it’s time for EU policy-makers to do the same.”

About Mencap

There are 1.4 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want. www.mencap.org.uk

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