On 18-21 October 2021 was held the 43rd edition of the Global Privacy Assembly (GPA). This is the go-to annual event in the field of data protection and privacy worldwide, held in a hybrid format (online and in-person), as limited by the COVID-19 pandemic, hosted by the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI).

The Closed Session of the GPA was held on 20-21 October, and gathered 153 member and observer Data Protection and Privacy Authorities from across the world. This session adopted 5 documents, where the Commissioner’s Office has provided its modest contribution, also in the capacity of member to the Executive Committee and 3 Sub-committees thereof:

  • Resolution on the Assembly’s Strategic Direction 2021-23
  • Resolution on Data Sharing for the Public Good
  • Resolution on Children’s Digital Rights
  • Resolution on Government Access to Data, Privacy and the Rule of Law: Principles for Governmental Access to Personal Data held by the Private Sector for National Security and Public Safety Purposes
  • Resolution on the Future of the Conference and the Secretariat

Attendees in the closed session discussed a range of issues from “data sharing and innovation”, “lessons learned from COVID-19”, “international enforcement co-operation”, “Fostering Innovation through engagement”, etc. The GPA working group reports were also introduced alongside the activities of a number of partner organisations. The President Commissioner of INAI, Ms. Blanca Lilia Ibarra Cadena was elected Chair of the GPA Executive Committee for a 2 years mandate, thereby replacing in this seat Ms. Elizabeth Denham, the UK Information Commissioner, at the latter’s end of 3 years mandate in chairing the steering body of this organisation.

The Global Privacy Assembly has presented Mrs. Shoshana Zuboff, Professor Emerita of Harvard Business School, with the first edition of the “Giovanni Buttarelli” Award, for her contribution in this field, including her co-authorship of the “The Age of Surveillance Capitalism”. This award recognizes the outstanding legacy of Mr. Buttarelli in the field of personal data protection and privacy.

The Global Privacy Assembly has welcomed as voting members the Office of the Queensland Information Commissioner of Australia, and the Commissioner of Data Protection of the Abu Dhabi Global Market. In addition, 8 other organisations were accepted as observers: the National Data Protection Authority (ANPD) of Brazil, the Saudi Data and Artificial Intelligence Authority of Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Transport and Communication of Qatar, the Data Protection Office of Qatar Financial Centre, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board of the United States, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the United States, the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) Forum, and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights (IIHR).

The Open Session of the GPA was held on 18-19 October, and featured topics with interest for the wide spectrum of professionals of this area and beyond. Extended over 5 main panel sessions, featuring representatives of the academia, civil society and the industry alongside GPA members and observers, it focused on issues such as “Data Protection and Human Rights: Mass surveillance by facial recognition and analysis of metadata”, or the “Promotion of an ethical approach into organizations”. In addition, the sessions dealt with “The future of privacy and technology: challenges and possible solutions”, “The challenge of compliance: the perspective of Data Protection Officers”, or “The status of COE 108+ and the prospects of a COE Treaty on AI”.