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Europe Data Protection Digest | Notes from the IAPP Europe Managing Director, May 8, 2015 Related reading: Australia and Chinese Taipei join APEC's Cross-Border Privacy Rules System

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Greetings from Brussels!

Staying with the European Digital Single Market (DSM) theme touched upon in previous “MD Notes,” this week saw the official unveiling by the European Commission of the DSM strategy on 6 May. Both extensive and ambitious in content, its many components essential and interconnected, the DSM clearly would be untenable without their proper functioning and interoperability. It is proof, if any was ever needed, of how technology has become an integral part of our private and business lives. With that come uncharted waters as technology evolves and emerges, continually influencing how we as individuals and organizations exist and behave in our daily lives.

The ambition speaks to the bigger picture, although no doubt there will be a trainload of critics and analysts who will start dissecting the strategy looking for suggested flaws and shortcomings in its data protection or copyright frameworks, oblivious of the intended message, the bigger picture. If there was previous doubt about the extent of what Europe is seeking to achieve, I think it is clear that it is looking to drive a digital revolution so that the EU can compete on the global stage on all things knowledge and innovation. It’s a start in many ways, and for sure we are a long way off from achieving the intended playing field. That said, it is an exciting time, and the promise of opportunity for the next generation of European digital firms as well as new digital citizen freedoms provides for an intoxicating environment. For the privacy professionals among you, this is a space that should be monitored as it develops with probable process to further ponder.

Busy times ahead, I feel, but perhaps given human nature, this is possibly as evolutionary as it is revolutionary in its design.

On another note, the London IAPP KnowledgeNet was a huge success on Tuesday with a well-received balance of European and UK content. Anya Proops, one of our guest speakers and a leading light in London legal circles—as described to me by her peers present—gives an excellent account of the discussion on her blog. I think it is worth the read if you have a spare moment.

Overall, the general consensus expressed by speakers and attendees alike was that data protection and privacy issues have irreversibly emerged from the shadows, reaching new heights of maturity permeating multiple facets of society. To cite UK Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith, “Data protection law is in the ascendancy.”

Finally, I will leave you with one last note that I think speaks volumes to the need for the GDPR: Bruno Gencarelli of the European Commission noted that when the 1995 Data Protection Directive was adopted, Facebook Founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg was just 11 years old.

I will leave you to reflect on that one. 

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