Opening remarks by Mr Jan Kleijssen
39th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners ICDPPC
Hong Kong, 27 September 2017
The Council of Europe is an international organisation based on the protection of human rights, democracy and rule of law. It was founded in 1949, it has currently 47 member states, covers approximately 820 million people and operates with an annual budget of approximately half a billion euros. It is distinct from the European Union whose predecessor was created in 1951 primarily for economic reasons, while the Council of Europe was since its foundation perceived as the “soul of Europe” based on the shared values and principles of democracy, the defence of human rights and rule of law.
It was in this spirit that the Council of Europe has requested observer status within the Governmental Advisory Committee (GAC) of ICANN in 2010 and got involved in ICANN’s work since then. Focused on the importance of the integration of the universally recognised principles on the respect for human rights and rule of law, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe issued a declaration on “ICANN, human rights and the rule of law” in 2015 recalling that “Member States have a primary legal and political obligation to protect human rights as enshrined in the European Convention on Human Rights (…) it includes the right to freedom of expression and access to information, the freedom of assembly and association, and the right to private and family life, (…) and also includes the protection of personal data as safeguarded by the Convention 108.”
The Council of Europe has an integrated approach aiming at both the protection of human rights and respect for the rule of law. It was in this spirit that we facilitated a meeting between ICANN communities and senior data protection experts, called the “Privacy Day at ICANN58” held earlier this year in Copenhagen with the participation of the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy, the European Data Protection Supervisor, the co-chair of Article 29 Working Group, the chair of the Council of Europe Data Protection Committee, the Data Protection Officer of Interpol and myself. This event was an outstanding opportunity to reinitiate or actually start a dialogue on privacy and data protection related considerations and their integrations into ICANN policies.
We are here today to continue this high level discussion, with representatives of ICANN coming to meet the global privacy community, while in Copenhagen it was the contrary.
For one of the biggest data controllers in the world, the processing of personal data has a very important role, but I suggest to direct our attention to the questions which come out of the discussion we had in Copenhagen: the publicity of WHOIS data, the third party access to data and the issue of accountability.
It has been reported that ICANN after the Privacy Day of March this year immediately took some actions in order to tackle the situation from which we will hear, I hope more in details from the panellists. On the other side, the “data protection team” who participated in the Copenhagen event also prepared concrete inputs on how to move forward to overcome the existing difficulties. I would be much curious to hear more about that as well.
Let me finally express my gratitude to the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data of Hong Kong, the organiser of this conference, as well as to ICANN and its communities for contributing to the organisation of this this event. I am more than sure that this will provide a series of benefits to the involved parties, ranging from a better mutual understanding, a facilitated contact and above all the continuation of the dialogue on the underlying issues.
I wish you a successful discussion and that this dialogue will bring a new era in ICANN in respect of the rights to privacy and data protection.