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Tbilisi hosts high-level International Forum on Personal Data Protection

By Natalia Kochiashvili
Friday, May 10
The event, which is one of the most high-profile European forums in the field of personal data protection, is hosted by Georgia for the first time. Spring conference is held in Tbilisi on May 8-10, 2019. Among the discussion topics are global challenges in the protection of personal data, new European standards of data protection and the importance of protecting children's personal information.

Prime Minister of Georgia Mamuka Bakhtadze and the Personal Data Protection Inspector Tamar Kaldani opened the spring conference. The speakers emphasized the reforms carried out in Georgia in recent years in the field of personal data protection and the importance of the high standard of personal data protection on the way to Georgia's integration into the EU.

The head of the government emphasized the important efforts to turn Georgia into a regional center. "We are proud that our international partners trust and show interest in Georgia as it continues to be a regional center in the context of hosting large international events. It’s the first time we host such an important event on personal data protection, which is especially relevant because in November Georgia will take over the chairmanship of the Council of Europe and will lead to the improvement of human rights and freedom protection mechanisms, including the protection of personal space and personal data,” stated Bakhtadze.

In his opening speech, PM also said, that "protection of personal data is of the highest importance for the Georgian government as it empowers the citizens’ rights and the trust to the government." He said that the law on the protection of personal information was adopted in 2011 and an independent institute for protection of personal data, responsible for the enforcement of that law was created in 2013. Bakhtadze also noted that the comprehensive protection of personal data remains a challenge for almost all the governments worldwide, adding that “Our (Georgian government’s) coordinated work is directed towards creating a common system based on internationally shared values and principles.”

Up to 100 senior delegates attend the conference. Among them are personal data supervisory bodies of European Commission and Council of Europe as well as officials from European Data Protection Agencies. Representatives of supervisory bodies of San Marino and Ukraine attend the forum with a status of observers.

The conference hosts and guests are discussing challenges such as the introduction of the general regulation of the EU data protection (GDPR). challenges related to the implementation and enforcement of GDPR remain a year after the General Data Protection Regulation came into force, which harmonized data protection principles and rules across Europe and strengthened rights of data subjects and reshaped the environment in which private as well as public organizations manage data.

The first session focuses on the cooperation and consistency mechanisms; means and powers of national supervisory authorities; implementation of the GDPR on the national level, including GDPR’s opening clauses; results of enforcement mechanisms, etc.

Modernized convention 108 and GDPR both state that data protection rights of children shall be given specific attention; and while the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec (2018)7 suggests that governments of member states are obliged to ensure that their legislation, policies and practices address the full range of the rights of the child, there are many difficulties in practice. Therefore the topics of the session concerning the protection of children’s life include age verification in the process of child’s data collection and effective mechanisms for identification, as well as protection against cyberbullying and 'hidden dangers' of Internet of Things (IoT). The session will also cover specific rules for the publications concerning minors in the context of media coverage. New approaches to strengthening cooperation in education and awareness-raising initiatives are said to be discussed as well.

This session on the topic of the role of international organizations in data protection is to explore how international organizations’ approach upgraded data protection and privacy standards and their implementation, as well as practical steps to align data protection practices with the updated standards. The session is to discuss the best practices of cooperation between international organizations and data protection authorities, as well as the European Data Protection Supervisor.

Within the framework of the conference, there will be held plenary voting for the accession of the National Data Protection Authority of Turkey.