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Europe Data Protection Digest | Notes from the IAPP Europe Managing Director, 31 Jan. 2020 Related reading: Microsoft unveils open-source privacy mapping tool

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Greetings from Brussels!

I am just back from my native Ireland — from the city of my birth, Dublin — where I had the pleasure to attend several events being held in honor of International Data Protection Day, or if you were celebrating in North America or elsewhere, Data Privacy Day as it is also known. Is there a clear distinction? It really depends on who you talk to.

One really needs to dial back to 1981, when 28 Jan. marks the anniversary of the Council of Europe's "Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to the Automatic Processing of Personal Data," or, the more lovingly referenced "Convention 108." This week marks the 39th anniversary of the convention, and it is justly recognized as the root treaty that spawned the first European Union-wide data protection laws, which would invariably herald in the present-day EU General Data Protection Regulation, as well as other data protection laws internationally.

One would have to wait until 2007 when the Council of Europe launched its first Data Protection Day to be celebrated each year on 28 Jan., the date on which Convention 108 was opened for signature. If you have an interest in the history of the day, be sure to check out John Kropf’s post about it here. In short, it is a global thing and deservedly so. In any event, this year will mark the 14th anniversary of Data Protection Day or Privacy Day, whatever your preference may be.

At the IAPP, we have been busy for a couple of years organizing numerous events to mark Data Protection/Data Privacy Day across our global community. Through the IAPP network of KnowledgeNet events and in honor of the international celebration, we organized 63 events globally in 2019. This week alone, the IAPP community held 94 events, bringing together more than 3,000 privacy pros to celebrate all things data protection and privacy. We have almost doubled the number of events in two years — with 54 events in 2018 — which I think speaks to the phenomenal success of the day. Moreover, it also speaks to the enthusiasm within the global privacy community to mark the date, as well as the confidence within the profession: There is a growing maturity in the field. 

For my own participation, I was delighted to attend corporate member meetings in Dublin over two days in the company of IAPP President and CEO J. Trevor Hughes and Kate Colleary, IAPP country leader for Ireland. Kate and I spoke at length with privacy pros on what the day means to the community since its inception; it was felt increasingly that the core objective of awareness had evolved to one of taking stock and looking down the road to what will be impacting privacy for organizations and citizens. Kate said building on the momentum, “We are looking forward to meeting demand for a range of events for our Irish members in 2020 including training, KNet meetings and after-hours events.” In more ways than one data privacy has gone mainstream, and there is no turning back the clocks.

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