Data Commissioner Urges Humanitarian Organizations to Prioritize Dignity of Data Subjects at Privacy Symposium Conference 2024

Data Commissioner Urges Humanitarian Organizations to Prioritize Dignity of Data Subjects at Privacy Symposium Conference 2024

VENICE, Italy, June 12

The Data Commissioner, Immaculate Kassait, MBS participated in a plenary session on Data Protection in Humanitarian Action at the Privacy Symposium Conference 2024 in Venice, Italy.

She was joined by other panelists, including Catherine Lennman and Florence Dubosc, her counterparts from Switzerland and Monaco, Alex Novikao from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Carmen Casado and Vincent Graf Narbel from the World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross, respectively.

In her remarks, the Data Commissioner urged humanitarian organizations to prioritize safeguarding the dignity of data subjects during their day-to-day operations, ensuring that data subjects feel safe even while receiving humanitarian aid.

“When it comes to humanitarian actions, data subjects should be protected. Building trust is a core issue – data subjects should feel safe even when they are in dire situations. This way, an organization’s reputation, which is a bigger risk, is also protected. As you do your work, ensure you protect the people who trust you with your data,” she said.

With the enactment of regulatory frameworks across the globe, the Data Commissioner implored humanitarian practitioners to consider accountability and fairness by informing data subjects about the purpose of data collection and limiting the use of their data.

“At the center of this conversation is the right of the data subject – it is no longer business as usual, there is a serious shift in the current landscape where data subjects own the information and have the power to decide how it will be used,” she said.

The Data Commissioner also acknowledged some of the key challenges faced in the implementation of data protection, including inadequate understanding of data protection laws hence the need for more sensitization and awareness, the rising advancement of technology with the advent of AI, which brings the issue of automated decision-making, and data localization in some jurisdictions that require organizations to keep a copy of citizens’ data locally.

Nevertheless, she urged humanitarian organizations to adopt the principle of data protection by design and by default, to perform data protection impact assessments, and to rely on partnerships and collaboration to exchange ideas with like-minded organizations.

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