On March 26, 2015 the United Nations Human Rights Council (the “Council”) announced that it will appoint a new position as special rapporteur on the right to privacy for a term of three years. The position, which is part of the Council’s resolution, is intended to reaffirm the right to privacy and the right to the protection of the law against any interference on a person’s privacy, family, home or correspondences, as set out in Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (the “Conference”) has launched a new permanent website. The new website fulfills the agreement made between Commissioners “to create a permanent website in particular as a common base for information and resources management” in the Montreux Declaration adopted in 2005. The Executive Committee Secretariat called the website a “one-stop-shop for permanent Conference documentation,” and will be a resource for members and the public to explore upcoming Conference events and newsfeeds.
On December 19, 2012, the European Commission announced its formal recognition of personal data protection in New Zealand. The European Commission approved New Zealand’s status as a country that provides “adequate protection” of personal data under the European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. This determination means that personal information from Europe may flow freely to New Zealand. Although the law in New Zealand has been modernized over the years, it is not new. New Zealand will be celebrating the 25th anniversary of its data protection law in 2013. Furthermore, New Zealand has been very active in the development of international standards at the OECD and APEC, and has participated in initiatives such as the Global Accountability Project. New Zealand’s request to be deemed adequate has been pending for several years. This determination follows the positive Opinion of the Article 29 Working Party issued on April 4, 2011, concerning the level of protection under New Zealand’s law.
On November 2, 2011, following welcome comments by Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (“IFAI”) Commissioner Jacqueline Peschard, the 33rd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners opened in Mexico City with an examination of the phenomenon of “Big Data” as a definer of a new economic era. In a wide-ranging presentation, Kenneth Neil Cukier of the Economist drew into clear relief the possibilities and problems associated with combining vast stores of data and powerful analytics. He highlighted the growing ability to correlate seemingly unrelated data sets to predict behavior, reveal trends, enhance product performance and safety and derive meaning. In his remarks Cukier noted that, in an era of Big Data, much of the decision-making about data collection and use goes beyond traditional notions of privacy, touching on ethics and free will. Noting that the printing press led to the development of free speech laws, he left open the question of how Big Data may change the legal landscape.
On November 2-3, 2011, Mexico’s Federal Institute for Access to Information and Data Protection (“IFAI”) will host the 33rd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners in Mexico City. Marty Abrams, President of the Centre for Information Policy Leadership at Hunton & Williams LLP, is the chairman of the Conference’s advisory panel and principal advisor to Conference organizers on program content. Hunton & Williams is a proud sponsor of the event which will feature Hunton representatives as speakers or moderators on multiple panels and plenary sessions, including the following:
On April 4, 2011, the Article 29 Working Party (the “Working Party”) issued an Opinion finding that New Zealand ensures an adequate level of data protection within the meaning of the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC (the “Data Protection Directive”). The Working Party’s assessment in the Opinion focuses on the New Zealand Privacy Act 1993 and is based primarily on a comparison of the Act and relevant case law, against the provisions of the Data Protection Directive.
The 32nd International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners held in Jerusalem this October continued the trend from past conferences by enacting a resolution, this time with respect to the adoption of global privacy standards. The Jerusalem Declaration calls for an intergovernmental conference in 2011 or 2012 to negotiate a binding international agreement guaranteeing respect for data protection and privacy, and facilitating cross-border coordination of enforcement efforts. The basis for the binding international agreement would be the Madrid Resolution, which was adopted in November 2009.
The Jerusalem Declaration was sponsored by the French Data Protection Authority (the “CNIL”) and was seconded by nine other entities, including the Irish Data Protection Commissioner, the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, the Spanish Data Protection Agency and the UK Information Commissioner’s Office. Despite the resolution, it seems highly unlikely the intergovernmental conference will take place within the proposed two-year timeframe.
On September 2, 2010, police in New Zealand issued a statement to confirm that there was no evidence Google committed a criminal offense in relation to the data it collected from unsecured WiFi networks during the Street View photography capture exercise. The case has now been referred back to the New Zealand Privacy Commissioner. A spokesperson from the New Zealand police force took the opportunity to underline the need for Internet users to make sure that security measures are properly implemented when using WiFi connections in order to prevent their information from being improperly accessed.
On April 19, 2010, the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, Jennifer Stoddart, and the heads of nine other international data protection authorities took part in an unprecedented collaboration by issuing a strongly worded letter of reproach to Google’s Chief Executive Officer, Eric Schmidt. The joint letter, which was also signed by data protection officials from France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Spain and the United Kingdom, highlighted growing international concern that “the privacy rights of the world’s citizens are being forgotten as Google rolls out new technological applications.”
The Madrid Resolution on global standards provided new momentum behind the concept of one world, one standard for privacy in international commerce. New Zealand Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff is one of the thoughtful officials who has joined in the call for a global framework. Commissioner Shroff discussed her views on global standards in an interview with Marty Abrams during the Centre for Information Policy Leadership’s First Friday Call on April 9, 2010.