Looking Back 

High-class legal lectures, lively discussions, over 300 international data protection experts from business, science and politics: The fourth Bitkom Privacy Conference on 27 September 2018 in Berlin has confirmed that the GDPR is still the center of many debates four months after it came into effect.

There was no shortage of matters to discuss at this year's Privacy Conference: Just one quarter (24 percent) of all German companies claim to have already completely implemented GDPR, 5 percent have only just begun making adjustments. Those are the results of a current representative survey which Bitkom presented during a press conference prior to the event.

These findings were also reflected during the Privacy Conference: Emily Sharpe of Facebook confirmed that implementing GDPR has proven to be challenging even for large corporations. "To implement GDPR we have set up the largest interdisciplinary team in Facebook's history", she explained in a panel discussion on the topic of "E-Privacy & GDPR" to moderator Alberto Di Felice (DigitalEurope).

Deutsche Telekom has also come a long way to reach GDPR compliance: "We started tackling the issue as early as 2016 and implemented GDPR compliance in a total of three phases," said Global Data Privacy Officer Dr. Claus D. Ulmer. Though GDPR compliance proved to be a success, he is sceptical about the upcoming e-privacy Regulation: "We supported GDPR very strongly. But we can live without the e-privacy Regulation. If we impair all the affected business models we might slow down our technical development in Europe."

Cloud Security Alliance opens GDPR center in Berlin

Several speakers at the Privacy Conference pointed out that small companies more than others still seem to struggle with the GDPR. Google's Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer announced for this reason that his company wants to help small and medium-sized businesses to achieve compliance: The Cloud Security Alliance co-founded by Google will be opening a GDPR Center of Excellence in Berlin soon.

Demand for less bureaucracy

The upcoming Brexit proved to be an urgent topic at the panel on GDPR and International Data Transfers. "The top priority is to ensure the continuous flow of international data even after the departure," explained Claire Bradshaw (UK Department for Culture Media and Sport). However, there is no concrete plan yet. Dr. Axel Kessler of Siemens garnered spontaneous cheers pleading to politicians to reduce bureaucracy: "We are wasting too much time on contracts. I ask the politicians to offer pragmatic solutions for that!"

With the rise of IoT Data Privacy will affect every single industry

His demand could be voiced by more and more companies in the future. At the end of the event, Gerd Billen (Federal Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection) pointed out that data privacy is not just important for the IT sector. "With the Internet of Things, billions and billions of products will be connected, that means that more and more products will be high-tech products." Data privacy therefore will affect every single industry.

After a day of vivid discussions, the participants concluded the conference day joining a relaxed get-together with beer & pretzels.

Special thanks go to the partners of the Bitkom Privacy Conference 2018: Accenture, Cloud Security Alliance, CMS, Facebook, Google, OneTrust, DataGuidance, NXP Semiconductors, TECH IN France, techUK as well as the DUB Unternehmer-Club, Legal Tribune Online, Netzpiloten and ZD - Zeitschrift für Datenschutz.

We look forward to welcoming you to the next Bitkom Privacy Conference on 17 September 2019!