International Conference on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the personal data protection law in Poland, 17.10.2017
Continuous awareness raising both of the data controllers and the data subjects is one of the challenges which is always relevant.
That was one of the basic conclusions reached by the participants of the International Conference „Unchanging Values and their Effective Protection in the Era of Changes”, which was held on 17 October 2017 in the Sejm of the Republic of Poland under the honorary patronage of the Speaker of the Sejm of the Republic of Poland, Marek Kuchciński. The event was organised by the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the personal data protection law in Poland.
The event was attended by prominent guests – all the persons who fulfilled the function of the Inspector General for Personal Data (GIODO) for the last 20 years. To commemorate Michał Serzycki, who was the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection of the 3rd term of office, and who passed away in 2016, the prize bearing his name was established, which will be awarded for promoting the values of personal data protection.
Giving effect to the constitutional values
Both Dr Ewa Kulesza, GIODO in the 1st and 2nd term of office, and Prof. Michał Seweryński, Deputy Speaker of the Senate of the Republic of Poland, emphasised the importance of adopting in 1997 of the Act on Personal Data Protection. They indicated that the Act contributed to elimination of irregularities, and at the same time shaped the constitutional values into specific rights of the citizens and obligations of data controllers. For the last 20 years, people have learnt how to use their rights.
Challenges for the coming years
Education is a task which is always relevant, especially on the eve of significant changes in the personal data protection system, inter alia in connection with the beginning of the application of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) as of 25 May
Dr Karolina Mojzesowicz, representative of the European Commission, drew attention to another challenge, that is ensuring harmonisation in the application of the new EU legal provisions. She said that it was important not lose one of the basic objectives of the current law reform.
Dr Wojciech Rafał Wiewiórowski, GIODO of the 4th and 5th term of office, enumerated as many as 6 challenges including:
- creating a comprehensive personal data protection system,
- developing relevant internal procedures at the national level,
- finding answers to technological challenges,
- dissemination knowledge on the reform, both among market players and public administration, and the citizens,
- aligning the application of law at the level of courts, in particular national courts,
- well conducted international cooperation.
Conditions of effective activity
Dr Edyta Bielak-Jomaa, currently fulfilling the function of the Inspector General for Personal Data Protection, referred in her speeches to the conditions which have to be met for the data protection authority to act effectively and efficiently. She found it most important to ensure independence of the DPA and appropriated means for its functioning, as well as to develop legal provisions which will guarantee that the protection of our fundamental rights, which are the right to personal data protection and the right to privacy, will not become a fiction.
Personal data protection – a system of unchanging values
At the meeting, many other aspects were touched upon. Participants tried to answer the question why we need the right to the protection of our personal data in the era of technological progress and globalisation. Speakers pointed as well at the fundamental values which should be the foundations for the personal data protection system, regardless of the changing technological challenges.
The Conference was attended by over 250 persons – representatives of public administration, including institutions cooperating with GIODO, representatives of the Hungarian, Bulgarian and Georgian data protection authorities, as well as representatives of the academia, including professors – members of the GIODO Experts Commission.