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Data Protection: Mauritius upholds right to privacy as crucial to right to life

Data Protection: Mauritius upholds right to privacy as crucial to right to life

As responsible authorities, data protection agencies need to channel resources in creating the right ecosystem for data privacy threats not to arise, cautioned Mauritius ICT Minister, Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum. (Image: Cecilia Samoisi)

International and national public officials, experts in the ICT field, industry representatives and academics gathered yesterday, 15 October 2014, at the 36th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.

Held at the Intercontinental Resort in Balaclava, the aim of this four-day forum, which continues till end of day today, was to break free from outdated practices and inject fresh thinking into the data protection ecosystem by sharing meaningful practices for data protection.

In her keynote address, Drudeisha Madhub, Data Protection Commissioner Mauritius, stated that Mauritius intends, through this conference, to propose to both developing and developed economies the key considerations for data protection.

She upheld the right to privacy as a crucial right to be protected, in order to guarantee citizens a right to life in full form and substance.

According to her, Mauritius believes in progress at the right place and in the right time, and its commitment to an effective right to privacy is, and should be, its core ambition.

She expressed the belief that Mauritius cannot be a nation of followers but of pioneers, being the destination of choice in Africa for doing business by a multi-racial community.

Besides, she noted that the status of Mauritius as a regional leader is reinforced through receiving top honours among African nations in world rankings on multiple parameters of economy, governance and ICT.

She advised the data protection and privacy community to conclude a pact to make their dream come true, sending out a strong message to world leaders that data protection champions globally are joining hands to bring data protection to the heights and respect that it deserves among the panoply of fundamental human rights.

In the backdrop of the government’s vision to position ICT as one of the pillars of the economy, Minister of Information and Communication Technology, Tassarajen Pillay Chedumbrum, declared that data protection and privacy are more relevant now than ever before, because we live and breathe in a digital age.

The key issue in today’s information-driven society is safeguarding fundamental rights, such as right to privacy and data protection, because more and more people are increasingly using technology in their daily lives.

Given the data drive, numerous challenges are constantly arising in regards to privacy and potential misuse of personal data online.

“We, as responsible authorities, need to focus and channel our resources in creating the right ecosystem for such threats not to arise,” he cautioned.

The conference went on with a plenary session on Privacy and Data Protection in the Developing world where Julie Brill, Commissioner at the US Federal Trade Commission, spoke about the benefits and challenges of big data.

According to Peter Hustinx, European Data Protection Supervisor, the global impact of internet services leads to challenges in terms of working across several jurisdictions, as data transcends physical and geographical barriers.

As for Jacob Kohnstamm, Chairman at the Dutch Data Protection Authority, when data is being collected from people, they have a right to be informed what is planned to be done with their personal data, its purposes and benefits.

Regarding Privacy and Data Protection in the Developing world, Marguerite Ouédraogo – President at CIL Burkina Faso- recommended that African countries must adopt an informatics law to assure their citizens of efficient data protection and privacy.

Patrick Walshe, Director, of Privacy, Government and Regulatory Affairs at the GSM Association, noted that that people are increasingly using new-age applications such as Viber, Whatsapp, and Skype to chat, posing new risks of data breaches.

Finally, a crucial point raised at the panel discussion was on the importance of one-stop shops for data protection and privacy rights, to ensure that organizations only need to deal with the regulation of one law and one regulator while guaranteeing data protection to their clientele.

- By Marie-Lorry Coret and Cecilia Samoisi

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