The Council of Europe was the first to create a legally binding text on data protection when Convention 108 was opened for signature in January 1981. Its principles are valid to this day, but with the immense shift in communication technology new approaches were needed and a modernised version – Convention 108+ – was developed, which lays down principles on respecting individual human rights in respect of personal data processing.

The Conventional Committee of Convention 108 (T-PD) is responsible for interpreting its provisions and ensuring its implementation through multilateral exchange and co-operation. It strives to enable the evolution of data protection and to extend its influence beyond European national or regional borders. The Committee develops recommendations and guiding documents to help states and all concerned stakeholders to implement its principles and to follow and anticipate evolutions in technology and society that might impact on the processing of personal data.

Its focus in 2022-2025 is on promoting more ratifications of the modernised convention; providing guidance on data protection issues related to digital identity, anti-money laundering action, data protection, including the use of biometrics in voting and elections, digital identity in the context of migration and setting up evaluation and follow-up mechanism.

Civil society is a key partner in the work to ensure human rights are respected in the collection and processing of personal data. Committee members, staff and the Council of Europe Data Protection Commissioner regularly take part in events organised by civil society involved in data protection and privacy. Civil society is also an important partner in technical assistance and co-operation activities, especially regarding legal development and awareness raising. Once Convention 108+ comes into force civil society will be included in monitoring activities.

The Convention gives NGOs active on data protection issues the possibility to observe and to contribute following a specific procedure.