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Opening remarks from Elizabeth Denham CBE, Chair of ICDPPC and UK Information Commissioner, at the 41st International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Tirana, Albania on 23 October 2019.

Original script may differ from delivered version.

On behalf of the conference, let me thank Commissioner Dervishi and his team, and our ICDPPC 2019 Programme Advisory Committee co-led by Peter Hustinx, who’ve all done such a fantastic job organising this week’s programme.

This is our forty first conference, continuing an event first held in 1979.

This year’s event comes at a crucial time. We are in an era where privacy has become mainstream.

We all in this room have seen that change first-hand over the past year or two. People are expecting more around how their data is handled, and so many of the big international issues – the big discussions – have a central privacy element, from fair elections to keeping children safe online, from crypto currencies to facial recognition technologies.

The focus of our closed conference for ICDPPC members over the past two days reflected that context.

I’m so proud to be able to tell you that we have endorsed this week what I believe is an historic agreement towards greater regulatory cooperation and high data protection standards.

We have agreed an international approach that tells a shared story, built on the foundations of the ICDPPC’s own Madrid Declaration and previous conference resolutions.

  • We all know consumers in Canberra, Cape Town and Accra suffer alike when big companies get data protection wrong. And so the ICDPPC has moved to strengthen regulatory co-operation, paving the way not only to sharing best practice, but potentially sharing lines of enquiry.
  • We all know people in Seoul, San Francisco and Stockholm are asking the same data protection questions. Questions around how new technologies and new approaches affect them. And so the ICDPPC has moved to better our collaboration on policy themes, so we can build on each other’s work.
  • Authorities worldwide, so many of whom are in this room today, share ambitions to continue to be effective and efficient data protection regulators. This week we have endorsed a move to work harder to share expertise, help one another and work together year-round.

We have resolved to open our gates further. We will share ideas within our membership, and engage with the world beyond our community, including a new reference panel to be formed next year.

Do look at the new release on the ICDPPC website to see more details of the important discussions we had in that closed session.

And I’d add that we agreed a new name and logo reflecting our continued growth – more on that later in the conference.

The thread joining all of that work is convergence and connectivity, a theme we continue in the fantastic agenda we have ahead of us today and tomorrow.

We’ll hear more of the clamour for high standards globally. We’ll talk about the impact of data driven business models and the role of data in competition. And tomorrow we’ll hear about accountability and the challenges we can expect in the future.

We also have three outstanding keynote speakers:

  • the always thought-provoking Jamie Bartlett,
  • Brad Smith, who brings a crucial insight from the digital economy,
  • and then tomorrow Christopher Docksey, who brings expertise on accountability and the GDPR.

Before we begin, we must acknowledge someone who is not with us today. I spoke at the closed session of how our work this week in Tirana builds on the wisdom and expertise shared at previous conferences. We stand on the shoulders of giants. And Giovanni Buttarelli was truly a giant of our community.

Giovanni Buttarelli was an inspiring figure in the international data protection and privacy community. He was an integral member of our Executive Committee and co-host of last year’s conference. And to so many of us in this room he was a friend.

I’d like to conclude my welcome by playing this short tribute video, which we’re grateful to the European Data Protection Supervisor for providing.