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29th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners
Montreal, Canada
25-28 September 2007

Last September in Montreal, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner hosted the The 29th International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners. This annual conference is an opportunity for the world’s data commissioners to discuss successes and failures in their efforts to promote data protection principles.

Turnout for the conference was excellent, with over 700 participants representing 53 countries taking part. The conference boasted an impressive list of speakers, including Michael Chertoff, the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security; Peter Fleisher, Google Global Privacy Counsel; Michael Geist, law professor and Canadian Internet law expert; and Barry Steinhardt, Director of Technology for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Media coverage from the conference was considerable as well, resulting in 24 print stories in Canadian newspapers and 65 broadcast media mentions.

The theme of the conference, Privacy Horizons: Terra Incognita pointed to the challenge for privacy guardians entering into uncharted territory. The main themes covered in plenary sessions were:

1. Public Safety
2. Globalization
3. Law Meets Technology
4. Ubiquitous Computing
5. The Next Generation
6. The Body as Data

The challenges posed by these themes were explored in more detail in some of the information and workshop sessions. Other workshop sessions explored techniques for dealing with specific challenges that confront data protection and privacy commissioners – namely, Privacy Impact Assessment, Audit and Children’s Privacy Education.

Overall, the international conference was deemed an overwhelming success by the delegates. Attendance levels for the conference were much higher than expected and post-conference survey results indicated a high level of satisfaction among the delegates.

The conference provided a unique opportunity for data protection commissioners and privacy experts from around the world to share ideas about privacy issues and their knowledge of important research results worldwide. Delegates felt the conference material was relevant and though-provoking, and the workshops and plenary sessions explored and advanced the discussion of important privacy issues.