Greetings from London.
I’m writing this shortly after stepping off the stage at the IAPP Data Protection Intensive: U.K. — our eighth consecutive year staging the event here in London.
As well as seeing so many familiar colleagues, I was struck by just how many new faces there were in the audience. It seems to me that this is as good a measure as any of how our profession continues to grow. Increasing the number of appropriately trained and qualified privacy professionals is essential to ensuring data subjects’ rights are respected and their data is managed ethically and in compliance with the law.
I was delighted to open the conference and introduce one of our keynote speakers, Simon McDougall — executive director of technology policy and innovation at the U.K. Information Commissioner’s Office. Simon got us all thinking with some bold statements about the fact that we are “losing the war over digital trust.” The concept of “digital trust” has been a personal hobby-horse of mine for several years, and along with security, identity and now algorithms, I see privacy as one of the core pillars of digital trust.
I’m delighted to see so many references to it recently. In addition to Simon, Mark Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, recently pronounced in Davos that “privacy and data protection are critical to customer and consumer trust.” While Simon painted a pretty bleak picture of the current state of privacy practices in our hyperconnected world, he also provided some uplifting thoughts about how committed the ICO is to work with industry and, importantly, innovators to address the fundamental challenges with managing privacy at internet scale. I would encourage any of you who have not yet had a chance to go to the ICO website and take a look at its initiatives around innovation and, in particular, its “regulatory sandbox” and grants program. For more on Simon’s keynote speech, check out the IAPP’s reporting here.
After hearing from Simon, we jumped straight into a panel on Brexit — great timing, given the proposed exit agreement had been voted down for the second time just a few hours before! The panel members were still able to provide good insight and advice, though. The main message was “don’t wait and do nothing.” Organizations with cross-border data flows were encouraged to be proactive by at the very least putting in place a formal plan for the various scenarios that they are facing (no-deal Brexit, Brexit with a deal, etcetera). Some organizations have already gone as far as putting standard contractual clauses in place with European partners. By the time I get to write my next MD Notes, I hope that we will all have much greater clarity on exactly what is happening with Brexit — although I am not holding my breath!
As a final thought, just before putting “fingers to keyboard” for this article, I had the pleasure of walking around the networking coffee break, and I was enthralled by the level of lively discussion and debate that was taking place. It really does seem that our privacy community is both excited by and passionate about its work — and privacy pros love to connect with their peers. Long may it continue!
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