As reported yesterday, on June 16 and 17, 2011, the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the European Union hosted a high-level international data protection conference in Budapest.  The following are some highlights from the second day’s events:

  • During the “New principles in the field” panel, Professor Paul De Hert of the Vrije Universiteit Brussel gave an explanation of the case I v. Finland, which was decided by the European Court of Human Rights on July 17, 2008, and which both he and European Data Protection Supervisor Peter Hustinx agreed was a key document for the concept of accountability in European data protection law.  Endre Szabó of the Hungarian Ministry of Public Administration and Justice noted that the principle of accountability had not yet been fully accepted by all members of the European Council.
  • The second and final panel on Friday, “Global compatible standards of privacy / data protection”, featured Christopher Kuner, partner in the Brussels office of Hunton & Williams, who emphasized the need to rely on mechanisms other than international treaties to achieve greater global harmonization of data protection law.  Jörg Polakiewicz of the Council of Europe mentioned that Uruguay had made the first formal application by a non-European country to accede to Convention 108 of the Council of Europe, and that it’s likely a decision regarding Uruguay’s request will be made by the end of the year.
  • The conference ended with a speech by former Hungarian Data Protection Commissioner Attila Péterfalvi.  Péterfalvi provided some details regarding upcoming legislation to amend the Hungarian data protection framework, which he said would be introduced in the Hungarian parliament that day.  He explained that the original Hungarian Data Protection Act had not fully implemented the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC.  Accordingly, the new legislation was designed to bring Hungary into compliance with the Directive, in particular by converting the Data Protection Ombudsman into an independent data protection authority with its own budget.  The legislation would make the new DPA responsible for freedom of information as well as data protection.  Approval of the amendments will require a two-thirds majority in the Hungarian parliament; it is hoped that the amendments may be approved some time this summer.