Greetings from Zürich,
Quite the city, Zürich. Culturally vibrant, efficiently run, and attractively set at the meeting of a river and a lake, Zürich has certainly matured into one of the world's most livable cities by all accounts. Long known as a savvy, hard-working financial center — don’t disregard the "horlogerie" industry and the concentrated pharma presence. Zürich is Switzerland's largest and wealthiest metropolis and is seen increasingly as one of central Europe's hippest destinations, with an artsy, post-industrial edge.
It has been three years since my last visit to Switzerland, and this week I had the pleasure of speaking at the Zürich KnowledgeNet on EU General Data Protection Regulation readiness. It was also a great opportunity to dialogue with our growing Swiss community on all the latest activity and plans at the IAPP. Notably, there was significant interest in our DPI Deutschland event in September; Zurich is relatively close to Munich, and the two cities have a long history of doing business together. I'd like to extend a special thank you to our Swiss KNet co-chairs for the invitation to attend and speak: Clara-Ann Gordon of the Swiss law firm NKF, Shawn Jensen of Profila, Stefan Keller of Roche, and Stephane Droxler of DP&S who facilitated the hosting of the KNet event at e3, the software company.
I am happy to report that a good number of Swiss companies is fully engaged in their GDPR-implementation programs, and our members here are highly conversant in the challenges of the GDPR. This is perhaps not wholly surprising, taken that the EU is Switzerland's largest trading partner, and Switzerland is the EU's third largest trading partner, after the U.S. and China. Switzerland accounts for 5.2 percent of the EU's imports — mainly chemicals, medicinal products, machinery, instruments and timepieces. As members of the European Free Trade Association, Switzerland and the EU have very healthy trade relations.
With the advent of the GDPR, Switzerland has also sought to adapt their data protection regime to reflect European regulatory developments. As early as 15 Sept. 2017, the Federal Council published a communication announcing a total revision of the Swiss Data Protection Act, which is currently being — hotly — debated in the Swiss Parliament and may enter into force at the earliest by the end of 2018. Just how much of it will be aligned with the GDPR remains to be seen, but clearly, among the privacy community here, there is a predominant view that adequacy must be maintained to facilitate business and data flows.
It is always endearing to hear how the IAPP has helped and supported the membership in their privacy journeys. And, clearly, with the GDPR on the horizon, members are more engaged than ever before, reaping the benefits of membership and all the content and product that we can offer them. This Swiss KNet was a great example. There is a growing confidence on the part of the community that becoming GDPR ready is attainable and that having privacy culture acknowledged as a strategic consideration at the highest levels of management has finally come to bear.
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