I'm just back from a privacy commissioners' conference in Warsaw. I detected a theme of privacy-war-weariness there. It's tiring, spending your days navigating the constant conflicts of privacy and protectionism, privacy and politics, privacy and Prism.
I'm sympathetic to people who are tired of sitting in drab conference centers from Brussels to Belgrade, half-listening to tedious talks and self-righteous rants and anti-American tirades.
How can I blame civil servants for voting to hold their next annual global conference on an Indian Ocean resort island of Mauritius? Ok, I admit, at first I thought it was a joke, but then I was told it wasn't.
This could be fun: in sunny Mauritius, you'll see your global privacy colleagues in an entirely new light, discussing Binding Corporate Rules on the beach, or monitoring international data flows in the Indian Ocean. Ever heard a speech about transparency from someone in a Speedo? engaging in a little surreptious surveillance by snorkeling.
At the last conference in Warsaw, I can't remember much, and I always tune out the anti-American rants, but someone said personal data on social platforms was like "urine in a swimming pool", which made me sit up and listen, since I'm a swimmer, and ponder the analogy, and at my pool, we drain the water twice a year, which is sort of like a Right to be Forgotten, or at least it gets rid of the urine eventually, unlike the Web. Then someone started another anti-American rant about why can't Americans be enlightened enough to create euro-bureaucracies like us to "accompany innovation", so I sighed and zoned out again and watched swimming videos on YouTube.
Indeed, it's been a tough year in privacy-land, tempers are frayed, and we all deserve a break (well, except the taxpayers). As the International Association of Privacy Professionals reported:
To celebrate, Mauritius will play host to next year’s International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners on September 22, 2014.