Professor Joe Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy at the United Nations
March 16, 2020
‘Regulator Spotlight’ interview series by OneTrust DataGuidance documents jurisdictional focuses, legal developments, and guidance direct from commissioners, regulators and supervisory boards and brings poignant commentary to the rapidly changing data privacy landscape. Over the past 12 months, OneTrust DataGuidance have sat down with leading figures from organisations including the European Data Protection Supervisor, the UK ICO, and the European Data Protection Board.
We spoke with Prof. Joe Cannataci, Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy at United Nations in October 2019. The Special Rapporteur is an independent expert appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. This position is honorary. In July 2015, the Human Rights Council appointed Joe as the first-ever Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy.
Joe discusses the key takeaways from his work and mandate over the last year as well as how the organization’s priorities have shifted during his mandate.
Global perspectives on privacy
Joe reports that he has seen great privacy progress in many countries. However, despite the right to privacy being universally accepted, the impact of history and cultural diversity on the differing issues that can arise, can still be seen.
“So, for example, […] the Koreans have put in a law where they have cameras in every kindergarten, which some parents are worried about but actually, the safeguards they have are very good,” says Joe.
He continues, “Then I compare that to some cities in Europe where, unless you have cameras in the kindergarten which people can look through and see on their app on their smartphone what their child is up to, you won’t even get the customers in that private kindergarten.”
Joe concludes that there are also similarities appearing between jurisdictions, predominantly in the issues that data protection authorities are facing. He notes that resources and recruitment have emerged as common day to day problems facing authorities but as privacy awareness is on the rise globally more attention will be paid to these issues.
Top Priorities for the Special Rapporteur
Joe took up his mandate in 2015 and was the first Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy, which gave him a blank page to outline his priorities.
Joe highlights, “I was both lucky and unlucky to have a clean slate. Nobody had been working on the brief from a United Nations point of view before that except for a report which had been published previously and so I had to draw up my list of priorities.”
There five original priorities included
- security and surveillance,
- health data,
- Big Data and open data,
- use of personal data by corporations, and
- the better understanding of privacy
Joe explains he has been systematically addressing these priorities through his mandate and is now looking to report further on gender and children’s data as well as consulting on updates to existing treaties in other areas of the United Nations work.
Watch the full interview with Joe Cannataci where he shares his thoughts on the approach to GDPR v. CCPA and other global privacy laws as well as giving insight into the progress his organization have made in respect to gender and privacy.