The Office of Information and Data Protection Commissioner organized on 3 – 4 May 2018 the 28th Conference of European Data Protection Authorities, entitled “Data Protection – Better Together”. This is the most important event of this domain in the European continent and is being held for the first time in Albania as well as in the region of Western Balkans.

In his welcome note, Mr. Dervishi declared that the Office of the Commissioner has started the process of modernizing the national legislation in accordance with the European standards. This approach is crucial in order to respond to both socio-economic development and integration process of the country. “The Conference is taking place in Tirana, in the region of Western Balkans, which is deeply invested in the process of EU integration. Convinced that I am speaking also on behalf of the other countries of our region involved in this process, I would suggest that the EU bodies and Member States should on their turn respond to our commitment, whereas in doing so the protection of personal data would steer our integration process and the cooperation with EU countries in the context of GDPR – stressed the Commissioner.

  

The Conference was addressed as well by Mrs. Vasilika Hysi, Deputy Speaker of the Assembly; Mrs. Senida Mesi, Deputy Prime Minister and Mr. Erion Veliaj, Mayor of Tirana.

  

The 28th edition of the European Conference dealt with topics and issues relating to the start of application of the General Data Protection Regulation on 25 May 2018 and the processing of data in the context of activities of police and judicial bodies or the relation of this new regulatory system with third countries. It further evaluated enhancing the cooperation between Data Protection Authorities in the oversight of intelligence services. Moreover, panellists held presentations on the modernization of Council of Europe Convention 108 (“Convention for the Protection of Individuals with Regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data”); convergence of European data protection standards on other regulatory systems; processing of data in the humanitarian action or the consequences of data use in social networks and in different types of direct marketing.

  

In terms of documents, delegates exchanged regarding the Discussion Paper drafted by the Working Group on the Future of the European Conference, coordinated by the Office of the Commissioner and composed of 12 Data Protection Authorities. This Working Group was mandated to continue its work until the next edition of the European Conference, in order to prepare concrete proposals for the modernization of the rules and procedures of this forum. The Conference discussed as well the application of the Turkish Data Protection Authority for accreditation to the European Conference. The Office of the Commissioner, in its capacity as member of the Accreditation Committee jointly with the Hungarian and United Kingdom’s Data Protection Authorities, prepared the Evaluation Report and the relevant recommendations. Some authorities asked for more time to consult these documents and the Conference decided to postpone the decision on this application until the next edition of the Conference. Finally, the Commissioner’s Office has prepared a draft document aiming to promote and strengthen cooperation and exchange of experience between EU Member States and Third Countries within the frame of the General Data Protection. This document has received support from several members of the European Conference and once finalized, it will be submitted to a consultation process. This year’s edition of the European Conference was attended by almost 100 representatives from European Authorities. The first European Conference was held in the Netherlands in 1991. Currently, this platform counts 62 member national, regional and European bodies, as well as 6 observers. The European Conference is the most important forum of co-operation and coordination of strategies and policies of European regulatory authorities of the right to the protection of privacy and personal data. The Office of the Commissioner has joined this forum in 2010. The organization of this Conference in Albania marks the effort and contribution of the Commissioner’s Office in the international arena, as well an encouragement for the promotion of strengthening of cooperation in the protection of individuals’ privacy.