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What is the GPA?

Updated: May 2, 2023

On the occasion of the launch of the 45th Global Privacy Assembly (GPA) web page, here’s a blog post to introduce the GPA to Bermuda.

What is the GPA?

The Global Privacy Assembly (GPA) – a global forum that brings together more than 130 data protection and privacy watchdogs worldwide – seeks to provide leadership in data protection and privacy.

In October 2023, the 45th GPA annual meeting will be held in Bermuda. The theme of the event is ‘Ripples Waves and Currents’, which is indicative of the inter-connected nature of privacy laws and data protection around the globe.

GPA’s History

The Assembly has been in existence for more than four decades: it first met in 1979 and was known until 2019 as the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. In September 2020, the Office of the Privacy commissioner for Bermuda (PrivCom) joined the GPA as an accredited member under the helm of the Privacy Commissioner, Alexander White, with full voting rights on joint resolutions and an equal voice to participate in working groups.​ Today, Commissioner White serves as a member of the GPA Executive Committee (ExCo) and Chair of the Reference Panel.

Bermuda’s GPA membership

Through the GPA, PrivCom engages with its international counterparts to enhance Bermuda’s reputation as a regulatory leader and to ensure that its guidance and actions are consistent with standards and best practices around the globe. This benefits individuals, as well as businesses, organisations, and other entities in Bermuda. While individuals benefit because their privacy rights are interpreted according to the high standards of global consensus, organisations benefit through PrivCom’s guidance reflecting consensus best practices. At the same time, PrivCom’s regulatory actions become interoperable standards that suit multiple jurisdictions, promoting consistency and reducing compliance costs.

The GPA’s vision is one in which privacy and data protection authorities around the world can effectively act to fulfil their mandates, both individually and jointly, through liaising, networking, disseminating, and sharing knowledge, experience, and best practice. The GPA promotes and enhances personal data protection and privacy rights at an international level; improves data protection and privacy by providing a forum that encourages dialogue, cooperation and information sharing; drafts and adopts joint resolutions and declarations on subjects that warrant the common interest or concern of accredited members and promotes their implementation; brings together accredited members and other international fora or organisations that share common objectives and goals; encourages and facilitates cooperation and the exchange of information among accredited members, in particular regarding enforcement actions; and promotes the development of international standards in the field of personal data protection.

What is the GPA’s governance structure?

GPA consists of a governance body called the Executive Committee (ExCo), which manages and represents the Assembly. The ExCo consists of five elected members who represent national data privacy authorities. These members are elected by the Closed Session for two-year terms. The other two members are the immediate past Hosting Authority and the next Hosting Authority of GPA: currently, the former is KVKK, Türkiye, and the latter is PrivCom, Bermuda.

What is the GPA annual general meeting?

Each year, the annual general meeting for the GPA is structured as a summit to discuss relevant data protection issues and pass resolutions that will guide best practice for the membership in their individual jurisdictions. The programme consists of a Closed Session and an Open Session. While only accredited GPA members and observers attend the Closed Session, the Open Session is attended by a wider audience, including people from the data protection and privacy community, businesses, a range of industries, members of civil society, academia, and government representatives.

GPA annual meetings 2022 and 2021

Last year’s 44th Summit was hosted by Türkiye’s Data Protection and Privacy Authority, the KVKK, in the capital, Istanbul, in October. The main theme “A Matter of Balance: Privacy in the Era of Rapid Technological Advancements” highlighted the importance of achieving a balance between privacy and technologies based on data processing. The year before, the 43rd Summit was hosted by the Mexican Data Protection Authority, INAI, virtually in October. The central theme was “Privacy and data protection: A human-centered approach”. The main objective of this theme was multifold: establishing international standards to guarantee the adequate safeguarding of the human right to privacy and data protection; providing new knowledge to guide the future of Data Protection and Privacy policies, achieving cooperation between authorities, and finding coexistence between the development of new information technologies and human rights for the protection of personal data. In addition to seeking the exchange of examples of best practice, the summit promoted essential and necessary privacy protections for all citizens of the world.

What are some of the key topics?

Alongside the cross-cutting theme of proactive, interdisciplinary, and multisectoral collaboration, a wide range of data protection- and privacy-related topics are discussed, including the latest developments in technology and the accelerated use of a wide variety of technological tools, artificial intelligence (AI), algorithmic programming, automated decision-making, blockchain, metaverse, big data analysis and cross-border data transfers. Exploration of these topical issues brings to the foreground the urgency of creating a robust, dynamic regulatory framework compatible with best practice international standards. These conversations are crucial to understanding the ethical management of data and the protection and guarantee of human rights.

Click here to learn more about the 45th GPA, scheduled to take place 15th – 20th October 2023 in Bermuda.


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