Greetings from Brussels!
It has been busy here with news last week that the Belgian Parliament appointed a new commissioner and four directors, who will serve as the leadership team for the reformed Belgian Data Protection Authority. To put into context, with the entry into application of the GDPR last year, Parliament adopted the DPA Act creating the new BDPA entity as the successor to the former privacy commission. The aim of the reform was to ensure that the new organization would be enabled and equipped to exercise its newly acquired powers effectively in this new era.
The DPA will be divided into five distinct bodies of which the leadership constitutes the executive committee. The five members and corresponding bodies are the commissioner and director of the general secretariat, the director of the knowledge center, the director of front-line services, the director of the inspection body (inspector-general), and the president of the dispute chamber.
The successor and new commissioner who will take over from Willem Debeuckelaere will be David Stevens, a seasoned data protection expert with a strong academic background and experience in the telco and data analytics industry, having served in senior privacy functions for Telenet, the Belgian telecom provider, and currently finishing up his time at Nielsen. Stevens has also held academic posts with the KU Leuven Centre for IP & IT Law.
The directors are appointed for a period of six years, which is renewable once. The DPA Act also foresees that after three years of duty as commissioner, Stevens will be succeeded by the director of the knowledge center. This second leading role would be filled by Alexandra Jaspar-Leeuw, who is senior legal counsel with a focus on intellectual property, e-commerce, trade practices and data protection at the Belgian postal services company Bpost. The knowledge center is the unit that will advise and make recommendations on legislative or administrative measures and the social, economic and technological developments that have an impact on the processing of personal data.
As a reminder, these two directorial posts will be sharing the presidency of the authority, each of them assuming a three-year term in office. It is also foreseen that Debeuckelaere will continue to serve as an advisor to the authority in the interim.
The other three executive committee members elected by Parliament are Charlotte Dereppe, appointed director of front-line services, Peter Van den Eynde becomes inspector-general of inspection and primary care, and last but not least, a personal call out for Hielke Hijmans, who has been announced as president of the dispute chamber. I have had many an interesting chat with Hijmans over the years on privacy matters. All three members come with a solid background and expertise in the areas of personal data and the GDPR across both the public and private sectors.
This looks to be a stellar lineup, and we wish them success in their new roles. On a final note, a salute for Willem Debeuckelaere who has been in the hot seat since April 2007. He has been active in both the Article 29 Working Party, as well as the European Data Protection Board since its inception, while working to bring Belgium in line with the GDPR. We wish him all the best as he hands over the reins to Stevens, who I understand will start his new function 24 April.
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