40th Annual Data Protection Conference

40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners

Reflections on the 40th Annual International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners

Guest Post by Abby Moscatel

It’s been about a week since Rafael and I returned from Europe, where we attended the 40th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners at the European Parliment’s Hemicycle in Brussels, Belgium.

The thought leaders posed the single most important question facing us today: What kind of world do we want to live in? You see, we are at the tipping point where the internet will know more about us than we know about each other, or even ourselves. And yet there is no recognized universal ethical and moral code for how we deal with all of the data that is being collected about us. How do we handle it? Right now, Data Kings hold the cards. Companies provide free services to gather our information.

Apple CEO Tim Cook was correct when he said that we are now in a time where our data is being weaponized. We see it in our news feeds. No matter what you believe, you get socials and content that affirms your position, and makes the opposite position something you must resist.

Tim Cook at the 40th Annual Conference of Data Protection Comissioners

Hong Kong artificial intelligence researcher Pascale Fung was also right when she said that unless we get all of the world leaders together, it won’t matter.

Now, we have the GDPR. And, here in the US, we are starting to get patchwork legislation, like the California Consumer Privacy Act, heavily resisted by Big Tech in favor of a federal privacy law.

I want to live in a world where I own my data, control access to my data, and where I can delete my information. If a company or individual breaks a law, then I want a private right of action. Most importantly, I want to live in a world where we have a universal agreement on digital ethics.

What kind of world do you want to live in?

The Olympics of Privacy in Brussels!

Debating Ethics: Dignity and Respect in Data Driven Life, the 40th Annual Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners

Two Americans walk into a EU Privacy Conference…

Just a few weeks ago, a colleague reached out and reminded me “the Olympics of Privacy” were being held at the EU Parliament in Brussels in late October, and also if I’d like to attend. Well, how the heck am I supposed to turn down an invitation like that? After all, this is the year of GDPR, the NYDFS, the new California Privacy legislation and the ICDPPC has leaders like Mark ZuckerbergSundar Pichai, Tim-Berners Lee, Jagdish Singh Khehar and even the King of Spain all lining up to share their thoughts.

We want to stimulate an honest and informed discussion about what digital technology has done and is doing to do to us as individuals and as societies, and to consider future scenarios. We want to better understand the impact of technology on people of all generations, in all parts of the world, including the way people think, interact with others, develop their opinions, create art and write, how they buy and sell and how they participate in civic life.  – Privacy Conference Statement

Mark and Sundar are likely showing up because they realize the stiff penalties now associated with data security and privacy violations and the rest of the speakers realize that we are on the cusp of a digital and ethical revolution of sorts, one which will affect generations to come. In fact, Debating Ethics: Dignity and Respect in Data Driven Life is probably the most important privacy conference of the 21st century. My wife Abby Moscatel, an attorney and ethicist heard about this lineup and quickly said, yeah… I’m coming with you to this one!

So let’s have a look at the incredible schedule they’ve put together this year…

First, the conference is going to be opened up by Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor. Below is his speech on the state of privacy from last year. According to the program, “the Supervisor will welcome participants to the conference and set out the strategic importance of defining a truly global digital ethics to the future of data protection, privacy and respect for individuals and groups in the decades to come.”

Next, the public conference is going to be split into 3 parts: Our Common Digital Future, Right Versus Wrong and The Digital Dividend. In Our Common Digital Future, Maria Farrell will help us explore at how digital technology has brought us to where we are and gives some insights on our future, including takes on augmented reality and deep fakes. Can’t wait to explore these trends.

Maria’s discussion is followed by a keynote address by one of the pioneers and creators of the internet as we know it, Sir Tim Berners-Lee, who plans to address ethics and the internet. What a great way to move onto the next discussion which will address the role of ethics in human society, directed by Anita Allen, a notable Professor of Philosophy from UPenn. I love how the EU has selected an American to make this contribution to the conference and set the stage.

OPENING PRESENTATION: WHAT IS ETHICS? European Parliament Hemicycle
Anita Allen, Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, University of Pennsylvania
What is the role of ethics in human society? How has it evolved over time?  What are the origins of autonomy, dignity and respect in different cultures? Who defines ethics and whose interests does it serve? What is the relationship between ethics and law?

The next segment, Right Versus Wrong, opens with a panel of renowned ethicists and scholars who will discuss human dignity, economic interests, healthcare and interactions between humans and machines.

RIGHT VERSUS WRONG: DISCUSSIONEuropean Parliament Hemicycle
A panel of renowned ethicists and scholars will expand the topic of ethics in regards to the notions of human dignity, economic interests, work relations, scientific progress, healthcare as well as the interaction between humans and machines.

And finally, the conference will wrap up with discussions around what organizers are calling The Digital Dividend, with a message from His Majesty, The King of Spain Felipe VI. Following that we’ll have the pleasure of hearing from Jagdish Singh Khehar, the former Chief Justice of India! Can’t wait to see this guy. The conference then will have a message from Sundar Pichai, Mark Zuckerberg and Erin Egan, followed by a second group of experts discussing technology and behavior. One of the last keynotes will be from Guido Raimondi, President of the European Court of Human Rights.

The conference is then followed by a gala at Autoworld and the next day conference attendees are treated to a special session of the EU Parliament and a lunch. If you’re attending the conference, please reach out to us because we would love to get together to discuss and share ideas and thoughts about what this brave new world might bring!

Last date to register is October 15th!