On Tuesday 20 November, the Society for Computers and Law (SCL) held a panel discussion on the future of technology and privacy. The panel was moderated by Anita Bapat (Data Protection and Privacy Partner, Kemp Little LLP) and comprised experts from both the legal industry and the technology sector: Kasey Chappelle (Data Protection Officer, GoCardless), Alex Hogan (Managing Partner, Etic Lab), John Cranmer (Head of Information Security, The Go-Ahead Group) and Marta Dunphy-Moriel (Senior Associate, Fieldfisher).

The panel acknowledged that building privacy considerations into new technologies presents a number of operational challenges. Among these challenges is the inherent difficulty of reconciling the GDPR's focus on transparency and data protection by design with the technology sector's increasing focus on agile methodologies which by their very nature minimise up-front planning and are characterised by rapid developments in the way data is used. 

These challenges are only exacerbated when you consider just how reliant new technologies are on data-intensive systems and processes - consider artificial intelligence, blockchain and the Internet of Things, to name just a few examples.

As a result, for many start-ups and data-driven companies, the implementation of the GDPR has been a source of concern as companies have been forced to re-examine how they approach the use of data within their organisations. However, one of the key themes emerging from the panel discussion was that, despite these challenges, privacy legislation should not be seen as a blocker to the development of new technologies. Understanding why privacy matters, and creating a culture where privacy is valued as a corporate objective, will ultimately help organisations to factor in privacy considerations at an earlier stage in the design and delivery process and to embrace solutions that achieve their organisational objectives without compromising individuals' privacy.