Computers, Privacy and Data Protection…

I attended the second annual International Conference on Computers, Privacy and Data Protection was held in Brussels last week, hosted by Vrije Universiteit Brussel.  The conference was well attended by a wide range of lawyers, academics, policy advisors and DP officers. 

As well as providing an in-depth review of some of the key DP developments in 2008, the conference addressed current issues in DP law, including the e-Privacy Directive, DP in the third pillar, and Facebook and SNS.  The increasing impact of Facebook on DP and privacy is nicely illustrated by this story from The Register:  http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/10/23/sickie_woo/

The final panel session addressed the topic of "Privacy by Design", and the speakers provided examples of how DP compliance and respect for privacy can be built in to technology from the outset – but how, unfortunately, in the majority of cases, non-design leads to non-privacy.  One organisation which is trying to tackle this is EuroPrise – the European Privacy Seal, which awards trust marks to recognise IT products and services which respect privacy:  see https://www.european-privacy-seal.eu/ 

Peter Hustinx, the current European Data Protection Supervisor, closed the conference with some reflections on what has been achieved and what still needs to be done.  One suspects that 2009 will be another busy year for DP!

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