On Trialogues – oops, trilogues

When I was fumbling around in the dark trying to come up with a rational explanation for why, during the Trialogue for the GDPR, none of the actors reached out to any child protection people to test any of the ideas that were being thrown around on the age of consent for young people to hand over data without having to obtain parental consent, I thought maybe there were rules of confidentiality, or at any rate an expectation of confidentiality. I mean the word “Trialogue” sounds sort of intimate and official.

Anyway, there is a service called “Europe Direct” which holds itself out as being able to answer any question about EU institutions, rules and the like. I contacted them.

Today I got a reply.

First they corrected my spelling. It should be trilogue and it isn’t capitalised. After referring me to a couple of important documents setting out what rules there are (see below) here is the crucial bit of the answer

None of (the relevant) rules establish, for individuals engaged in trilogues or their respective institutions, a general expectation or requirement that no external parties are consulted in relation to matters being considered in trilogues.

In other words there were no obstacles – formal or informal – to any individual or any institution involved or represented in the trilogue to reach out to anyone at all.

They simply chose to keep it all buttoned up.

The basic document describing trilogues is here and there is a related one affecting the Parliament only which is here. But as I said, neither of them presented any obstacles to external consultation or discussion.

You live and learn. I hope I never have to write about  this again.

About John Carr

John Carr is one of the world's leading authorities on children's and young people's use of digital technologies. He is Senior Technical Adviser to Bangkok-based global NGO ECPAT International, Technical Adviser to the European NGO Alliance for Child Safety Online, which is administered by Save the Children Italy and an Advisory Council Member of Beyond Borders (Canada). Amongst other things John is or has been an Adviser to the United Nations, ITU, the European Union, the Council of Europe and European Union Agency for Network and Information Security and is a former Executive Board Member of the UK Council for Child Internet Safety. He is Secretary of the UK's Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety. John has advised many of the world's largest internet companies on online child safety. In June, 2012, John was appointed a Visiting Senior Fellow at the London School of Economics and Political Science. This was renewed in 2018. More: http://johncarrcv.blogspot.com
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