Thomson Reuters has introduced a groundbreaking AI-powered web-based tool for international data privacy professionals. Data Privacy Advisor comprises two core functionalities.
Exploratory research. Users can access privacy laws and regulations, including pending ones, of more than 80 countries. Practical Law data protection materials and the full GDPR library are also available. In addition, there is a tool for side-by-side comparison of legal requirements for data protection between jurisdictions.
IBM Watson-powered Q-A, available in beta. Users can submit a query, e.g. “Legal grounds for data transfer to third countries”, and receive an answer with a “confidence rating”. According to Thomson Reuters, this tool was trained on thousands of Q-A pairs so that the AI can learn legalese and, in particular, data privacy concepts. The tool is constantly trained via thumbs up/thumbs down feedback, meaning that the answers get more accurate and relevant over time.
As of today, most AI-powered applications are focusing on a narrow set of problems, such as contract clause extraction or risk analysis of specific types of agreements. As regards the data protection domain, one can mention Copenhagen-based SecurePrivacy.Ai which addresses the user consent management aspect. In turn, Data Privacy Advisor is one of the first one-stop-shop solutions to embark on such a complex, broad and multi-faceted subject as global data protection.
Thomson Reuters’ push towards AI-backed data protection solutions also demonstrates the legal services market’s growing preparedness to rely on artificial intelligence in daily work.
We reached out to a privacy expert Charlotte Gerrish, the founder of Paris-based Gerrish Legal and former senior counsel at SThree, for a comment:
This kind of artificial intelligence is growing in importance across all sectors, not least the legal one. At the forefront of the legal framework and technology / IT security cross-over, it is no surprise that the area of data protection law is an attractive one in which to pilot such AI initiatives. I’d be really interested to use this service to see the added value it can provide. It would be fantastic to have all regulations, rules and guidance on a multi-jurisdictional basis in one place, but in my view this doesn’t replace a lawyer’s practice, I think it compliments it. Machines can provide the knowledge, humans can fill in grey areas, provide workarounds and reassure clients with practical and manageable strategies which perhaps machines can’t get do. When implementing a huge project such as GDPR compliance, clients tend to want human reassurance rather than another program to grapple with, but this might change as AI and robotic lawyers develop.
At this stage, it’s hard to disagree. As of today, AI is augmenting the legal profession as a tool, being a “bicycle for the legal mind”, if one paraphrases Steve Jobs. Although there are two “camps” as regards the future of legal AI, one believing in no more than expertise augmentation while the other – in complete replacement of some legal jobs, we think that the advances in technology and data collection will allow for the latter path. And Data Privacy Advisor might be one of the first steps in that direction.