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Asia Pacific Dashboard Digest | Notes from the Asia-Pacific region, 27 March 2020 Related reading: Commerce department releases Privacy Shield FAQ

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Kia ora koutou,

I hope you're all well and safe during this very unsettled time. 

Here in New Zealand, we're entering into a full nationwide lockdown, which requires every person to go into self-isolation and work from home (if they can) for the next four weeks. The plan is to halt COVID-19 in its tracks, but this and similar lockdowns across the APAC region will also have a significant social and economic impact.

This has made me reflect on the role the IAPP can play in our professional and personal lives over the coming weeks and months. We’ve always said that being a privacy officer can be a lonely game. The IAPP has always been a force for connecting like-minded people and bringing this strong community together. This is more important now than ever before, and the IAPP is working frantically behind the scenes to keep us all connected.  

The IAPP is ensuring that virtual networking and knowledge sharing can continue; KnowledgeNet chapters are encouraged to explore opportunities to hold online meetings. As always, IAPP’s ever-growing suite of web conferences can also help you while away a few long hours in isolation. 

Of course, COVID-19 has raised countless privacy issues for us all to grapple with as we look to help our clients or organizations balance public health and safety against individual privacy. Many countries in the APAC region have implemented or are planning to implement surveillance measures intended to help manage the spread of the pandemic. In China, for example, a facial-recognition company has developed software that can identify individuals wearing masks. This is a debate going on here in NZ as well, with the privacy commissioner stating the law would permit some degree of information sharing provided it was transparent and limited. 

On a more practical level, many of us are being required to advise on the risks of moving entire workforces to their homes, allowing people to self-isolate while ensuring that they can continue to work. We are fortunate that there are now numerous online tools for remote working. However, this new normal raises unique privacy risks that must be managed. 

The IAPP has created a resource center page that pulls together COVID-19 privacy guidance from data protection authorities around the world, which includes remote working considerations. I would recommend you take a look at the European Data Protection Board’s broad guidance, in addition to specific guidance for your jurisdiction. 

Finally, we remain hopeful that the ANZ Summit in November will go ahead as an in-person event. To allow for the disruption for many caused by COVID-19 planning and response, we’ve extended the deadline for speaking proposals to 3 May. So, keep them coming, and we will continue to plan for a much-needed privacy get-together (though, we may still be greeting with elbows and not hands). 

That’s it for now, folks. Stay positive, keep things in perspective and connect with colleagues as much as you can. He waka eke noa — we’re all in this together. 

Nga mihi nui

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