23 April 2018
London, 19 April 2018 – Co-chairs Patricia Poku (Ghana Data Protection Commissioner) and Elizabeth Denham (UK Information Commissioner) welcomed participants to the first Common Thread Network (CTN) event on “Privacy, trust and the digital economy in the Commonwealth”.
The Central London event attracted many CTN members and Government and intergovernmental officials including representatives from the Commonwealth Secretariat and the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, alongside members of the private sector and civil society.
Alongside introductions from Ms Poku and Ms Denham, participants were fortunate to hear from Simon McDougall, Managing Director, Promontory, and Steven Malby, Head of the Office of Civil and Criminal Justice Reform, Commonwealth Secretariat.
The event also coincided with the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting and served as a powerful reminder to Commonwealth Governments of the need to consider rapid adoption of strong data protection laws to drive public trust and growth in the digital economy.
The CTN has presented a statement to Commonwealth Heads of Government, calling on them to respect and promote individuals’ right to privacy in the digital age. It also urges them to ensure that legal frameworks for privacy and data protection include adequately-resourced independent oversight mechanisms.
The CTN also takes positive note of the Commonwealth Cyber Declaration adopted by Heads of Government of the Commonwealth. The Declaration recognises the importance of “strengthening data protection and security frameworks, in order to promote public trust in the internet, confidence for trade and commerce, and the free flow of data”. It also commits Governments to “work towards the development and convergence of approaches for internet-connected devices and associated services, in order to promote user security by default” as well as “common standards, harmonised legal approaches and improved interoperability, including through the use of Commonwealth model laws; and commit to considering the potential for further Commonwealth cooperation in this regard, including the possible coordination of common positions in international fora”.
It was confirmed at the event that another meeting of Common Thread Network members would be organised later in 2018.