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Europe Data Protection Digest | Notes from the IAPP Europe, 1 Feb. 2019 Related reading: Notes from the IAPP Europe, 23 Aug. 2019

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Greetings from Dublin; failte!

As most people know, Ireland is fast becoming an international hub for data protection. Most of the global tech companies have their European place of main establishment here. Our Data Protection Commission is growing exponentially in terms of personnel and expertise, and our commissioner, Helen Dixon, is recognized internationally as one of the most important data regulators in the world. Furthermore, with Brexit on the horizon, global organizations previously based in the U.K. are looking for a new HQ based in the EU, and many are looking to Ireland. Given all this, there is a lot of activity on the Irish data protection landscape.

This week has been particularly busy. On Monday, we celebrated international Data Protection Day (as we call it in Europe; our American friends say Data Privacy Day). I was delighted to speak on behalf of the IAPP at LinkedIn with Denis Kelleher, LinkedIn’s head of privacy for EMEA, and global data protection superstar Phil Lee from Fieldfisher. The topics were Brexit (of course!), the e-Privacy Regulation and ad-tech. The audience was naturally inquisitive about personal data transfers after 29 March 2019 when the U.K. will leave the EU. From what we are seeing in practice, it is becoming clear that standard contractual clauses seem to be the only game in town, for now. While these clauses, approved by the European Commission, are useful to facilitate transfers of personal data to the U.K. post-Brexit, they are being challenged in the case of the Irish Data Protection Commission v. Facebook and Schrems.

We later made our way to the ancient and hallowed halls of my alma mater, Trinity College in Dublin. In the beautiful Regent’s Hall where I sat for my tort and equity law exams 25 years ago, we heard Jules Polonetsky from the Future of Privacy Forum speak about the future of privacy and new technologies. He covered topics as varied as AI, IoT, privacy ethics, smart cities and a very scary looking internet-connected dinosaur.

We ventured back down to Silicon Docks on Monday evening where law firm Mason Hayes and Curran kindly sponsored an IAPP Privacy After Hours event where privacy pros from industry, law firms, consulting practices and many of the global tech companies met to celebrate Data Protection Day. While many attendees were seasoned privacy pros, it was great to see so many young professionals contributing to the discussion on privacy issues over a few drinks. 

At the same time as all this was happening, international thought leaders in privacy were meeting with government and industry to discuss Ireland’s emerging position as a global data hub. Some big, important questions were asked, such as “What supports can we give indigenous data companies to encourage entrepreneurship locally? What do we need to do to support the education and training of upcoming privacy professionals?” As the world’s largest information privacy organization, we at the IAPP were delighted to add our voice to the discussion.

Finally, I was delighted to present to the Data Protection Commission with European Managing Director Paul Jordan on the IAPP’s research into the role of the DPO, where we looked at international trends and local issues.

All in all, it has been an interesting week with highs and lows — from the lows of the increasing likelihood of a no-deal Brexit to the highs of collaborating with seasoned privacy pros in our plans to make Ireland a global privacy hub. Let’s keep up the good work!

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