Data Protection concerns all of us

Wojciech Wiewiórowski

Each year on 28 January, we celebrate Data Protection Day. It is a chance for all of us to reflect on what this day represents, on how far we have come in the field of data protection, on the challenges that lie ahead for data protection in Europe’s digital future. 

The increased digitalisation of our societies has made individuals realise over the years that data protection concerns all of us. Individuals have become more aware of the different ways and circumstances in which their personal data may be processed.

Protecting individuals and their personal data has become a priority for many countries across the world since “Convention 108” was signed as the first legally binding international instrument adopted in the field of data protection 41 years ago. Since then, around 120 countries have adopted legislation to ensure that the right to data protection and the right to privacy are respected.

Amongst these pieces of legislation, a significant one for the European Union, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), entered into force on 25 May 2018. With the aim to protect individuals’ data and privacy in a uniformed and homogeneous way across the EU, the GDPR represents an achievement for Europe and its citizens. In some ways, the GDPR has contributed to raising individuals’ awareness of what their data protection rights are, and what to do if these rights are not respected.

There is still more to strive for, to achieve for data protection to work for all of us in Europe’s digital future.

As new technologies make their appearance in the EU’s digital landscape, we must continue to defend the fundamental right to data protection, now more than ever. To achieve this, data protection authorities of the EU must work together to promote the consistent application of data protection rules according to the EU’s values and principles. As data protection authorities, we must also advocate for technologies that are created in the EU, and that work for all of us in the EU, especially for the most vulnerable. 

Our digital future concerns all of us. This is why I have decided to organise a conference on 16 and 17 June 2022, titled “The future of data protection: effective enforcement in the digital world”. This conference aims to bring together our data protection community to not only discuss the future of the regulatory models, like the GDPR, but to also explore other fields of law and their impact on how individuals’ personal data may be processed, such as competition law, digital markets and services, and artificial intelligence. I wish to invite everyone to this upcoming conference, because it is only by interacting with and listening to each other that we will be able to shape a safer digital future that works for all of us in the EU.

I wish you a wonderful Data Protection Day, and I take today as an opportunity to reaffirm my commitment to protecting the fundamental right to data protection.

Watch the European Data Protection Supervisor’s video address to mark Data Protection Day 2022.