Data — the key to solving our problems, or just a weapon for sabotage?

Data breaches have been at the centre of many recent scandals, impacting everything from the US Presidential Elections to the 2016 Summer Olympics.So while personal data has massive health and scientific potential, it can also be used for espionage and sabotage.

With data becoming one of our most valuable resources, how can we make sure it’s used with our best interests in mind?

This question is what law and tech experts want the public to consider on Data Protection Day – Thursday 26th January – at two free events involving Trinity College Dublin’s Information Compliance team and the Science Gallery. More information can be found at:

1) A drop-in clinic between 10am and 12 noon in the Science Gallery will see data and legal experts offer advice on a wide range of data protection and IT security issues ranging from protecting personal data on social media to safely collecting personal and sensitive data for research. They will also explain how to deal with situations in which you have been hacked or compromised.

2) Newstalk radio’s technology correspondent Jess Kelly will then host a panel discussion between 6:30 and 7:30 pm in the Synge Theatre of the Arts Block. The discussion is entitled ‘Personal data: weapon or defence?’ and involves technology journalist at the Irish Times, Karlin Lillington, and Trinity experts, Professor in Law, Eoin O’Dell, and Professor of Neurology, Orla Hardiman.

They will discuss the scientific and political value of data, as well as the new technologies that are improving your life, while simultaneously collecting your data. 

Topical content will likely range from the hacking stories linked to the US election to Russia leaking health records of international athletes, and from the need for health researchers to have access to personal data to emerging technologies and the Internet of Things. There will also be a Q&A session involving the public.

3) Earlier in the day Dr Kevin Koidl, ADAPT Centre and Trinity Research Fellow, will talk about the lack of data awareness most of us have – despite our daily interaction with technology and social media. Dr Koidl will argue that it is impossible for users to discuss or even assess their need for data privacy and data security if they are not fully aware of their own data usage or of how their data is being used by third parties.

To illustrate challenges related to data awareness the ADAPT Centre at Trinity College Dublin has developed an app called ‘Bigfoot’, which was tested with 200 trial users. Dr Koidl will present some preliminary results. Interested parties are encouraged to get involved and learn more online at

Media Contact:

Thomas Deane, Press Officer for the Faculty of Engineering, Mathematics and Science | | +353 1 896 4685