Global Pulse Data Privacy Advisory Group Annual Meeting Recap

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The Global Pulse Data Privacy Advisory Group Annual Meeting took place last week in The Hague, Kingdom of Netherlands. The Data Privacy Advisory Group is an independent group of international experts from the private sector, public sector, academia and civil society who lend their advice and guidance on critical matters with regard to data protection and data privacy. Global Pulse convened the Group to enable inclusive and transparent discussion on different perspectives related to data protection and privacy, and to propose solutions for enabling the responsible use of big data for humanitarian and development causes. Held on the margins of the International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners Conference in Amsterdam, this was the Privacy Advisory Group’s first in-person meeting, and afforded an excellent opportunity to advance the discussion. Questions on the assessment of harms and benefits of big data uses, as well as risks and harms of non-use of data, principle of proportionality and necessity, assurance of data accuracy and non-discrimination, requirement of consent and notice along with justified purpose and data repurposing were discussed.

DAY 1 – OCTOBER 23rd, 2015

Day One kicked off with a closed discussion of the Privacy Advisory Group members, and was held at the Living Lab at Leiden University. It was opened by a welcome address and introduction by Director of UN Global Pulse, Robert Kirkpatrick and Data Privacy and Legal Officer of UN Global Pulse, Mila Romanoff. The meeting continued with a working session which included a select group of expert guests from the public and private sectors.

Global Pulse Data Privacy Advisory Group Annual Meeting Recap 1

The session included the formation of four breakout groups, with members of the Privacy Advisory Group designated as group leaders to facilitate the discussions that targeted outputs including: a Data Classification Scheme, Big Data Privacy Impact Assessment, and Big Data Privacy Guidelines. The breakout groups included:

  1. Mr. Blair Stewart, Assistant Privacy Commissioner, New Zealand, and Mr. Hela Ben Miled, Magistrate, Tunisian Administrative Court of Justice led a group focused on what criteria should go into a Big Data Privacy Impact Assessment for development and humanitarian projects.
  2. Mr. Robert Bond, Head of Data Protection & Cyber Security Group, Charles Russell Speechlys LLP led a group focused on the creation of a big data classification scheme.
  3. Ms. Drudeisha Madhub, Data Protection Commissioner, Prime Minister’s Office, Republic of Mauritius and Mr. Pablo Palazzi, Partner of Allende & Brea led a group developing content for data privacy and data protection guidelines for the development and humanitarian sector.
  4. Mr. Pat Walshe, founder of Privacy Matters, and Mr. Ridwaan Boda, Partner at ENSAfrica led the discussion on drafting terms and conditions for data access and use in public-private data initiatives.

The afternoon of Day One included a public-facing event entitled “Big Data for Development and Humanitarian Action: Towards Responsible Governance”, which took place at the Mauritshuis Museum. Attendees included representatives from academia, civil society, private sector, privacy and data protection commissioners, international organizations and government officials.

The event included a welcome address by Ms. Reina Buijs, Deputy Director-General for International Cooperation, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, followed by remarks from the Vice Rector of Leiden University, and an introductory keynote presentation by UN Global Pulse Director, Robert Kirkpatrick.

Session 1: “Beyond the Hype: From Potential to Impact”?

This session covered the role big data can play in shaping decision-making processes for humanitarian action and sustainable development, through the sharing of examples and lessons learned.

  • Moderator – Mr. Bill Hoffman, Head of Data Driven Development, World Economic Forum
  • Mr. Nicolas de Cordes, Vice President, Marketing Anticipation for the Orange Group
  • Mr. Nuno Nunes, Coordinator, IOM
  • Mr. Patrick Gordon, UN World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) Secretariat, UN OCHA
  • Mr. Jose Ramon Albert, Philippine Institute for Development Studies


Session 2: “Big Data Governance in Humanitarian and Development Fields”

This session introduced challenges and solutions that could be offered when it comes to governance in the use of big data for development and humanitarian causes, by sharing examples of responsible data governance mechanisms and practices used by various public and private organisations.

  • Moderator – Mr. Pablo Palazzi, Partner, Allende & Brea
  • Mr. Christopher Kuner, Co-Chair of Brussels Privacy Hub, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
  • Ms. JoAnn Stonier, Chief Global Privacy Officer, MasterCard
  • Mr. Alexander Beck, Senior Protection Officer, UNHCR


Session 3: Big Data Challenges & Opportunities from the Regulatory Perspective

The third sessions consisted of a conversation with regulators, on the differences and similarities between commercial vs. humanitarian and development applications of big data, exploring possible solutions globally.

  • Ms. Drudeisha Madhub, Data Protection Commissioner, Prime Minister’s Office, Republic of Mauritius
  • Mr. Blair Stewart, Assistant Privacy Commissioner, New Zealand
  • Mr. Alexander Dix, Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Berlin Data Protection Authority


The event also included remarks from Mr. John Edwards, Privacy Commissioner of New Zealand and Chair of the 37th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, and Mr. Jacob Kohnstamm, President, Dutch Data Protection Authority and Host of the 37th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.

Mr. Edwards spoke about importance of International Enforcement Cooperation and noted the critical need for humanitarian and development organizations to develop data protection and data privacy practices. Mr. Edwards acknowledged several positive developments including the establishment of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, the Data Protection Policy of UNHCR, the data privacy practices of UN Global Pulse and its Global Pulse Data Privacy Advisory Group. Mr. Kohnstamm reminded the audience about the 2015 International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, whose theme this year is “building bridges.” In particular, he highlighted the importance of regulators coming together to work on identifying best practices on de-identification of personal data and to propose a set of minimum guidelines.

Finally, Mr. Jeroen van den Hoven, Acting Dean of the Faculty of Policy, Technology and Management at Delft University of Technology concluded this discussion with summary remarks. Followed by Professor Ulrich Mans, of the Peace Informatics Lab and Centre for Innovation at Leiden University who closed the event and announced the establishment of new research alliance called the International Data Responsibility Group.

The plenary event was followed by a reception at Mauritshuis Musuem and a dinner for PAG members and several guests, hosted by the Hague Municipality, where remarks were delivered by Ms. Ingrid van Engelshoven, Deputy Mayor of the Hague.

DAY 2 – OCTOBER 24th, 2015

Day Two of the Global Pulse Data Privacy Advisory Group Annual Meeting took place at The Peace Palace in The Hague. Several expert guests from the UN system and relevant development and humanitarian agencies joined the sessions. Day Two focused on building upon the progress made during Day One, with deeper investigation and delivery of concrete recommendations resulting from the discussions of the breakout groups.

The groups contributed to the production of various outputs including:

  • A Big Data Privacy Impact Assessment for Development and Humanitarian Projects
  • Big Data Classification Scheme and Data Aggregation Guidelines
  • Terms and conditions for data access and use in public-private data initiatives
  • Data Privacy & Data Protection Guidelines for Development and Humanitarian Sector
  • Data Aggregation Guidelines


A synthesis report summarizing the main recommendations and outputs derived from the 2-day Annual Meeting will be published in the coming weeks. All of the recommendations and comments which emerged from the two-day discussions will contribute to the development of the mentioned outputs in the coming year.

Special thanks go to all of the Data Privacy Advisory Group members who provided their time, expertise and insights on these critical and challenging topics, to the many guests and experts who joined various open sessions and contributed to the public dialogue, and to the various generous supporters, co-hosts and venue providers who made the meetings possible.

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