PH chosen to lead new global working group to sustain data-privacy dialogue on Covid-19

October 27, 2020 | 11:51 AM GMT+0800 Last Edit: October 27, 2020

The Global Privacy Assembly (GPA) has created a new working group that will build on the successes of the Covid-19 Task Force in influencing global policy discussions on data privacy during the pandemic, with the country represented by the National Privacy Commission (NPC) chosen to lead the efforts.

“As the Task Force has concluded, the GPA voted to create the working group to continue the valuable work and sustain the momentum started by the task force,’’ Privacy Commissioner Raymund E. Liboro said. “More guidance is needed. Thus, we are continuing this engagement and collaboration to provide the community and our stakeholders direction in developing pandemic-responsive policies that uphold privacy standards.”

He added that the selection of the NPC to continue steering the goals of the GPA through a new group “is testament to the confidence partners in the international community has in the NPC, given the positive outcomes of the Covid-19 Task Force despite its short stint.”

Liboro, who chaired the Covid-19 Task Force, said the task force, in its five-month work, provided its members with valuable guidance regarding privacy issues emerging from the pandemic.

Best practices

At the GPA closed session on October 15, the NPC chair reported to GPA members and observers the substantial impacts of the campaign and plans. A review of deliverables, particularly the compendium of best practices, was one of the highlights.

“GPA’s repository of Covid-19 responses collates and shares knowledge, guidance, tools and resources, as well as case studies and technical expertise, offering practical support to the privacy community,” he added.

The compendium is the product of several capacity-building webinars on issues that the majority of members considered most pressing. These are (1) contact-tracing and location tracking (2) handling of employee data from home/return-to-work situations; and, (3) handling of children/students’ data associated with the use of e-learning and online education technologies.

“These webinars highlighted recovery mechanisms that helped members deal and cope with the new normal. These also noted some business continuity strategies for data protection officers (DPOs) and gave emphasis on their role in championing privacy and data protection amid the pandemic,” Liboro said.

Specifically, the COVID-19 Task Force organized five webinars, three of which were separate collaborations with the Centre for Information Policy Leadership, International Association of Privacy Professionals and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

“In planning and organizing these capacity-building activities, we made sure there is regional diversity in the selection of speakers, so as to give a holistic perspective and to be able to hear as much as possible, all voices and experiences from around the globe,” Liboro said.

Agile response

GPA Chair Elizabeth Denham, also United Kingdom Information Commissioner, said GPA members greatly benefited from the task force’s international engagements, crucial as the pandemic accelerated the adoption of technologies while privacy authorities are being more involved in the public-health agenda.

“The work of the Covid-19 Task Force has shown that the modernized GPA can be agile and proactive in responding to the needs of our community. The breadth of the Task Force’s achievements from capacity building and outreach events to the Compendium of Best Practices [has] provided real practical benefits,” Denham said.

“As GPA Chair, I warmly thank Raymund Liboro for his dynamic and productive leadership of the Covid-19 Task Force and look forward to the continuation of his work as chair of the new working group,” she added

‘Pragmatic initiatives’

GPA executive member Angelene Falk also lauded NPC’s work in steering the task force, expressing optimism that the new group can advance goals further.

“Under Commissioner Liboro’s leadership the task force has delivered pragmatic initiatives and global cooperation. The task force’s work in advancing capacity-building initiatives goes to the heart of the Global Privacy Assembly’s strategic objectives to advance global privacy and work toward a regulatory environment with high standards of data protection,” said Falk, who is also Australian Information Commissioner and Privacy Commissioner.

“It is with these reflections that I express my full support to the work of the GPA Covid-19 Task Force, and welcome the establishment of a GPA Working Group dedicated to the privacy issues being raised by the Covid-19 pandemic,” she added.

Members of the GPA Covid-19 Task Force include representatives from both GPA members and observers from the following countries and organizations: Australia, Burkina Faso, Canada, Council of Europe, Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, EU Fundamental Rights Agency, European Data Protection Supervisor, Gabon, Georgia, Germany, Hong Kong, International Committee of the Red Cross, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Jersey, Korea, Macao, Mauritius, Mexico, New Zealand, OECD Data Governance and Privacy Unit, Peru, the Philippines, San Marino, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Kingdom, UN Global Pulse, Uruguay and the US Federal Trade Commission.