Data Protection in Practice: The European Data Protection Case Handling Workshop

Wojciech Wiewiórowski

At the end of last month, the EDPS had the privilege of hosting the 31st edition of the annual European Data Protection Case Handling Workshop at which we welcomed colleagues from 28 EU and non-EU data protection authorities.

The unique set up of the workshop is an opportunity to meet a wide array of practitioners and to share our experiences of investigating complaints, providing guidance to controllers and enforcing data protection law.

As a data protection authority, we endeavour to be as transparent as possible about the work we do. However, for as much as we communicate to the outside world, it is difficult to transmit all that goes into our daily work in that communication and so a lot remains behind the scenes.

The case handling workshop is a platform to exchange with colleagues from our sister data protection authorities (DPAs) at the national level about our supervisory and enforcement tasks.

While each participant  represents their authority, its framework and approach  at the workshop, it is remarkable to note how much we all have in common, in other words, our similarities outweigh our differences.

In addition to the EDPS, a number of larger and smaller DPAs took to the stage during the workshop and kick-started discussions on various aspects of supervising and enforcing the GDPR and other pertinent (national) legislation, as well as presenting practical case studies that guided our conversations. Among the topics discussed were prior consultations, data brokers and credit reference systems, cross-border case handling, investigative practices and the determination of corrective measures.

With events such as this, the EDPS underlines its support for a strong regulatory framework and continues to push for the solid implementation of this framework in practice.

In the build up to our preparations for this workshop, the second following the entry into force of the GDPR, we considered how to square it with all the other cooperation mechanisms that exist now.

As data protection authorities, we are cooperating in an unprecedented manner, whether bilaterally or multilaterally within the remit of the European Data Protection Board or outside of it.

It is exactly because of its informal and practical nature, that the case handling workshop perfectly complements the work being done in the EDPB subgroups and plenary. I believe that the future of the case handling workshop lies, not in the parallel discussion of policy topics, but in the open discourse on our experiences in day-to-day operation. Practice makes perfect after all.
To our colleagues attending the case handling workshop, we thank you for your openness in sharing your experiences throughout the meeting and your enduring commitment to data protection not only in theory but in practice. As per tradition, we pass the organisational torch onto another authority for next year’s edition and look forward to a bright future of the workshop.