Fast forward. Never a dull moment. That’s how the past months have been going for all of us! While Europeans have been busy with the application of the GDPR, the rest of the world also had to address many privacy and data protection concerns, not to mention the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica revelations. All this of course in addition to our daily tasks and business, and with many eyes looking at the DPA community at international level.
We are certainly not alone, and people are more and more turning to us for guidance and answers. I have experienced this while in Washington late March at the IAPP global summit, and even more in May at the RightsCon Conference in Toronto, a global summit on human rights in the digital age which gathered more than 2000 participants from all horizons. Discussions there were vivid and refreshing, making the case for something which is already obvious for most of us: privacy and data protection can no longer be considered as a mere legalistic issue. It’s now part of our daily life and at the crossroad of many of today’s hot topics such as artificial intelligence, fake news and the right to information, freedom of expression, etc… We can no longer think in silos. We need to open up. And we need to keep our ears wide open and to listen.
The ICDPPC has actually been in an intense listening mode this year! A last consultation round on the future of the Conference has been held in the margins of the European Spring Conference in Tirana in May, and we opened a public consultation to hear views from external stakeholders on our future objectives and missions. Together with colleagues from the OPC Canada, we also took the opportunity of the RightsCon conference to hold a side meeting with representatives of civil society organisations from all around the globe. We gain valuable insights on current expectations towards authorities at international level which will share with you. Oh, and by the way, the Canadian spring was gorgeous and very sunny!
I’m most pleased to see that the strategic consultation agreed in Hong Kong has been a real success, and above all, a healthy exercise which allowed the direct and indirect contribution of most of the ICDPPC members. In total, almost 70 authorities took part to the various consultation rounds held throughout the year and around the globe! Even our website opened up, featuring 5-minutes interviews with key stakeholders such as the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, the Internet Freedom Foundation of India and Max Schrems. By listening, both internally and around us, one thing is already clear: our future missions and challenges will have to be addressed collectively and inclusively. Cooperation and inspiration beyond our own remits will be key to shape our future objectives and common project.
So, we’ve been listening, we’ve opened up and we now need to start thinking and building. That’s actually our programme for Brussels in October (registration is now open with a special rate for early birds, don’t forget!). In order to get ready for this, we welcomed in Paris two weeks ago a meeting of the Working Group on the future of the Conference. On that same day, the ICDPPC drafting team on artificial intelligence also gathered in our building to prepare for the debate and deliverables in Brussels on one of the top challenge ahead of us. I’m not sure participants had a chance to enjoy the charms of Paris, but the sacrifice was probably worth it, since we made really good progress!
Finally, please pay attention to the upcoming communications from the secretariat, as the closed session is taking shape and you will soon receive more news and details. The work undertaken ahead of our next annual meeting already shows that we are now more than a yearly gathering of authorities. But are we ready to build a new governance model? A real international organisation? We need to build answers to these questions. We also need to build bridges. All this takes time, maybe several years… but we have the whole summer to start making plans and propose some kind of evolution at our October meeting!
Chair of the International Conference Executive Committee