Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes is marking the 4th Council of Europe Data Protection Day, tomorrow 28th January 2010 with a brief retrospective over the 21 years since his Office came into existence:
"Since my Office was established in 1989, the context of our work as a privacy regulator has transformed through technology and other factors. Yet, at a more basic level, the concerns remain the same. Simple courtesies like seeking consent, respecting customers and treating their data responsibly can still avoid a lot of problems. This year Data Protection Day is an opportunity to remind organisations of their data protection responsibilities and to remind members of the public that they have data protection rights. We can all take stock of the challenges we’ve faced over 21 years – and the challenges still to come. As data protection acquires the status of a basic right under the Lisbon Treaty, we look forward to continuing with the work of giving people real control over the use of their personal information"
The earliest reports from the Office show widespread concern with consumer credit issues, concerns that died away over subsequent years only to return in 2009 – a sign of the times. Awareness of the role of the Data Protection Commissioner has surely improved since a previous Commissioner strove ardently to convince some members of the public that he was not in possession of a giant database of everyone’s records. That said, over 21 years of registering Irish data controllers and processors, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has built up a lot of information about how our information is processed by large organisations. All of this information is available on the Commissioner’s website and the Commissioner points to An Garda Síochána’s entry as a particularly informative and transparent example. Finally the Commissioner offers a brief perspective on the privacy landscape we will face in the future.
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is also marking Data Protection Day by participating in a joint initiative with their colleagues in the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner’s Office to raise awareness of data protection rights among teenagers.
Note to Editors:
The Council of Europe has decided that each year there should be a special day dedicated to Data Protection. The 28 January is the anniversary of the opening for signature of the Council of Europe’s Data Protection Convention. This is the fourth year that countries across Europe and indeed beyond have marked the day by increasing awareness of data protection and privacy rights. More information on Council of Europe Data Protection Day can be found at: http://www.coe.int/t/e/legal_affairs/legal_co-operation/data_protection/