8th International Conference – 21-23 January 2015, Brussels, Belgium


The Computers Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) Conference constituted a milestone for all researchers and professionals in the field of Information Technology. This event, which took place in Brussels, offered a unique arena for the exchange of ideas and discussion regarding the latest emerging issues and trends dealing with data protection and privacy. This year’s conference consisted of 70 different thought-provoking panels covering a wide range of different topics: mobile technologies, border surveillance, big data, encryption, revenge porn, cyber-security and European Union (EU) data protection. Last but not least,  particular attention was given to EU-United States (US) relations and the regulation of government surveillance on cross-border data flow.

There were three intense days of debates, and some of the panels should definitely be mentioned.

First of all, “The EU-US Interface: Is It Possible?” panel should be highlighted, which was organized by the Information Society Project at Yale Law School (New Haven, Connecticut, USA). Researchers such as Eduardo Ustaran, as well as our fellow Italian Pierluigi Perri, described whether it is possible to build a working cross-border interface between the EU and US data protection regimes. The discussion focused on to what extent data protection should be housed in governments versus delegated to privacy industries.

Moreover, a couple of very interesting panels should also be mentioned, “The Right to be Forgotten – European and International Perspectives” and  “Revenge Pornography: Legal and Policy Issues,” which were organized respectively by CPDP and University of Strathclyde (Glasgow, Scotland, UK).

On the one hand, the Google Spain vs. AEPD and Mario Costeja Gonzalez case, dealing with the right to be forgotten, represents one of the most controversial (new) rights issues in the proposed upcoming General Data Protection Regulation of the EU.  A perspectives advocating for more transparency, an accountable deletion mechanism and addressing how can we streamline the Right to be forgotten (RtbF) in different jurisdictions offered by the same global service was discussed.

On the other hand, the phenomenon of revenge pornography has dramatically increased in number over the last years. The non-consensual disclosure of sexually explicit images raises a variety of different legal and policy issues, as well as underscores the role of content providers, search engines and social networking sites in addressing the issue.

As an attendee, I enjoyed the high quality of panels and the superb organization of the conference by the academic staff of the Vrije University of Brussels, not to mention the international level of the speakers. If I had to find a weak point of the conference, I would say that it was lacking in regard to business application. In other words, some panels were, in my view, limited by being extremely academic, focusing solely on achieving a concrete solution to the challenges posed by privacy and data protection issues. But, as already pointed out, data protection is “on the move”, so let’s try to develop awareness of it in our everyday lives!

See you next year!

Marco Mendola, Tech and Law Center