GIS- 15 October 2014: The 36th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners on the theme “A world order for data protection-our dream coming true?” opened this morning at the Intercontinental Hotel in Balaclava. The four-day event, organised by the Data Protection Office under the aegis of the Prime Minister’s Office, is being held from 13 to 16 October 2014 with scheduled closed and open sessions.
This annual conference gathers public officials from international and sub-national authorities, as well as other experts in the field. It also brings together industry representatives and academics. The wide experience and knowledge of the participants provide a unique possibility to discuss a large number of issues and challenges regarding different areas of data protection.
The conference aims to explore the path towards building the relationships and tools necessary to protect the data of individuals regardless of culture, national borders, or the challenges that come from innovative data usage. It is also an opportunity for data protection stakeholders to meet colleagues from Africa, America, Europe and other jurisdictions in the Asia-Pacific region. Matters of common interest and concern, challenges for the future, and how to work together and find a way forward are on the agenda.
During the conference, participants will adopt resolutions on data protection and privacy, examine all contemporary issues in respect of data protection and privacy, and build the appropriate networks for enhancing the protection of personal information
Several themes are on the agenda namely, privacy and data protection in the developing world; One Stop Shop: Centralisation versus Proximity; Surveillance versus Dataveillance; Privacy in the Digital Age – the UN General Assembly Resolution; E-Health and Data Protection; Ethics, Fundamental Rights and Big Data; and Net Neutrality and Data Protection.
Key speakers include Ms Drudeisha Madhub, Data Protection Commissioner from Mauritius; Mr Jacob Kohnstamm, Chairman of the Dutch Data Protection Authority; Ms Edith Ramirez, Chairperson, US Federal Trade Commission; Mr Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor; and Mr Mukesh Haikerwal, Chair of the Council, World Medical Association (Australia).
In his opening address the Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Mr Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum, pointed out that the conference shows Government’s unflinching will to make ICT the first pillar of the economy, balanced with a meaningful protection of our personal information.
“We want to show the world that we are leaving no stone unturned in making Mauritius a safe destination for trustworthy investment coupled with a strong data protection and privacy framework to attract the right businesses especially in the ITES-BPO sector”, he said.
The Minister recalled that Mauritius has endeavoured to commit itself to acceding to the international Conventions on data protection and privacy in order to achieve accreditation with the European Union. The objective is to make Mauritius the leading country in the African region with the right framework, in line with international principles in data protection and privacy, he said.
With reference to the protection of human rights, Mr Pillay Chedumbrum said that Mauritius is credited as a top ranking democratic and peaceful State. He further pointed out that the government further believes that both freedom of speech and privacy are fundamental rights, which are stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights.
For her part, the Data Protection Commissioner of Mauritius, Ms Drudeisha Madhub, stated that there is only one right to privacy, only one right for data protection which should speak only one language that is, one world-one privacy.
“The modalities for enforcing this unique right vary from one jurisdiction to the other, without any doubt, but should not compromise the essence and soul of the right to privacy. Humanity may well be captured in the web of digitalisation but the human mind was born free and will remain free. Technology, with all its good intentions and deeds, cannot control the reason for our existence although it is monitoring and assisting all our daily single moves”, she said.
She expressed her conviction that the commitment to an effective right to privacy should be the overarching goal and ambition. On that score, she underlined the need for data protection and privacy community to join hands so as to bring data protection to the height and respect it deserves amongst the panoply of fundamental human rights in our national constitutions.
According to her privacy is supreme and data protection should be given the same status of a constitutional right.
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