We held a webinar on 27th October 2016 in which I moderated a panel of privacy experts – Ann Cavoukian (three time Privacy Commissioner of Ontario and creator of Privacy by Design), Vint Cerf (founder of the internet and Evangelist with Google) and Mozelle Thompson (former Federal Trade Commissioner responsible for the initial negotiations and implementation of Safe Harbor).

In a lively discussion the panellists addressed a number of questions around the viability of Privacy Shield, the practicalities of the EU Model Clauses and Binding Corporate Rules as well as the role of Privacy by Design as a fundamental requirement for the protection of the rights of individuals in their personal data.

Whilst Mozelle Thompson felt that Privacy Shield was an improvement on Safe Harbor and should provide more comfort to Europeans in respect of the protection of their rights in transatlantic data transfers, Ann Cavoukian responded to that by saying that whilst many people believe Privacy Shield is an improvement we are still in a “wait and see” situation as there are many unanswered questions such as the true independence of the Ombudsman or how intelligence agencies will be really restricted from accessing confidential information.

Vint Cerf interjected to say that in his view Safe Harbor had worked satisfactorily until the Snowden revelations and his view was that Privacy Shield was an attempt to provide a more uniform approach to international data transfer controls.

Discussion moved on to the need for businesses to engender trust with consumers by promoting transparency and ethical approaches to data processing and particularly by using principles such as Privacy by Design.

Vint Cerf then talked about the background to the creation of the internet and admitted that privacy was not “top of the agenda” but concluded that it should very much be the overarching feature in today’s digital economy.

All of the panellists agreed that businesses that adequately communicate privacy notices to consumers and not only “said what they did but then did what they said” would enable a balance to be struck between the fundamental rights of individuals in their personal information and the opportunities for businesses to make appropriate and lawful use of the same personal information - and sell that trusted position as a market differentiator..

A recording of the webinar is available here