Asia, Africa join the international privacy conversation

October 2017

Europe’s privacy values still drive the conversation, but voices are emerging from the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea, Japan and elsewhere.

In today’s increasingly connected world – marked by the proliferation of devices and services that communicate via the Internet and the emergence of Big Data – digital risks abound. Hacks and other data breaches are impacting an ever greater number of companies, governments and individuals. The potential costs in terms of business reputation, loss of privacy, regulatory fines and litigation are mounting. The spread of the so-called Internet of Things is only adding to the potential risks.

On September 25-29, 2017, officials from around the world gathered in Hong Kong for the 39th International Conference of Data Protection & Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC). Membership in the ICDPPC includes more than 100 data-protection authorities in around 70 nations, including large countries and governmental units such as the US, the European Commission and the UK and smaller jurisdictions such as Andorra, Benin and Jersey.

While the range of topics discussed in Hong Kong was both broad and detailed, one issue pervaded the event: the upcoming implementation in May 2018 of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The heightened attention to data protection and privacy that is called for by the GDPR is something that regulators and businesses around the world are scrambling to respond to, leading to a truly global debate, because failure to adhere to the GDPR could costs businesses everywhere millions in fines. Perhaps equally important, the debate is underscoring the growing importance of data security and privacy to all.