I write to you from sunny London at the IAPP Europe Data Protection Intensive, where we have had a turnout counting close to 400 attendees. In addition to the conference, we also had great attendance at the training days on Monday and Tuesday, where I sat in on the CIPP/E session given by Eduardo Ustaran. Not a spare chair to be found.
Thursday morning, Irish Minister for State European Affairs & Data Protection Dara Murphy spoke to our community for the first time. As a fellow Irishman, I feel obligated to report on his address to the plenary. (See also, below, Angelique Carson’s account from The Privacy Advisor.)
The minister emphasized and acknowledged the important role that data protection plays now, and will continue to play, in Europe. It seems clear that if anyone understands the importance of smart data management to commerce, it is Minister Murphy. He highlighted the priority that the Irish government is placing on establishing a common platform across Irish ministries to tackle and address the issues of data protection and privacy both in the interests of citizens and business. The government will speak with one voice on all matters privacy.
The proof is in the pudding, though. Murphy announced that Ireland has doubled the staff of its Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and opened a second office in Dublin. They will have plenty of work to do.
Notably, 29 of the top 30 digital companies in the world have offices in Ireland, Murphy said. Some also have their European legal entity there. What is also interesting to note is that all of these companies are U.S. in origin. The minister said it is his hope that the EU would use its strong data protection regime to compete in the international digital space as we move toward the next generation of companies, and he touched upon Irish collaborative initiatives across academia, government and industry to encourage and stimulate innovation in this area.
The work ahead, Murphy said, is in striking balances, putting citizen rights at the heart of everything lawmakers do, with an eye toward reducing administrative burdens and providing a consistent application of rules that fosters an environment that creates jobs and growth while simultaneously protecting civil and digital rights and privacy.
On the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Murphy believes the currently drafted regulation hits that balance, and he is specifically a major supporter of the one-stop-shop mechanism, despite the fact that it’s been criticized widely in some circles. “It’s vital if we believe, in any sense, in a digital single market having a capacity for businesses to function,” he said.
Getting the GDPR right, with understandable and manageable requirements, will tell the world that Europe believes in that kind of economic success, he said. Failing in that runs the risk of sending the wrong message to the global market about how it conducts business.
I think Minister Murphy’s plain talking was well received. His openness to take questions and dialogue with the audience was equally welcome. For many, an end to all of this debate and rumination surrounding the GDPR would be most welcome of all.
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