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UN privacy rapporteur to join Australian Privacy Awareness Week 2016

Acting Australian Information Commissioner, Timothy Pilgrim, announced today that this year’s Privacy Awareness Week will take on an international perspective, with the first visit to Australia by the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Privacy, Professor Joseph (Joe) Cannataci.

Privacy Awareness Week will be held from Sunday 15 to Saturday 21 May this year. The week promotes awareness and discussion with business, government agencies and the broader community on how to protect and respect the privacy rights of Australian citizens.

Mr Pilgrim described the UN Rapporteur’s involvement this year as being important for furthering privacy awareness and debate on a range of domestic and international privacy issues in Australia.

‘Professor Cannataci was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council just last year. He is the first UN Rapporteur for Privacy and his appointment is therefore a significant global milestone in the protection of privacy as a fundamental human right.

‘His work has already increased attention and debate on privacy rights, particularly in a digital context, and I know his involvement will elevate this year’s Privacy Awareness Week events and discussions.’

Professor Cannataci confirmed he would be the key speaker at the OAIC’s annual Privacy Awareness Business Breakfast, to be held on May 16 in Sydney, and that other Privacy Awareness Week engagements were being developed in conjunction with his office.

‘I am delighted to accept the kind invitation of Commissioner Pilgrim to visit Australia, especially during Privacy Awareness Week.

‘This awareness raising visit will allow meetings with various groups, to hear a diversity of Australian views on privacy — an issue that I know is of increasing importance to Australian communities and businesses.’

Further details of Privacy Awareness Week, and the UN Rapporteur’s itinerary, will be announced in coming weeks.

For more information please visit or follow @OAICgov on Twitter.

Media contact: Alison Wares           0407 663 968 

Background information

Privacy Awareness Week

Privacy Awareness Week is an annual initiative of the Asia Pacific Privacy Authorities (APPA) forum. It is held every year to promote and raise awareness for privacy issues and the importance of protecting personal information. The annual Business Breakfast is a signature event of Privacy Awareness Week and will be held this year on May 16, in Sydney. Further details and ticketing will be announced shortly.

Professor Joe Cannataci

Professor Cannataci was appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy in July 2015. He is the Head of the Department of Information Policy & Governance at the Faculty of Media & Knowledge Sciences of the University of Malta. He also holds the Chair of European Information Policy & Technology Law within the Faculty of Law at the University of Groningen where he co-founded the STeP Research Group.

An Adjunct Professor at the Security Research Institute and the School of Computer and Security Science at Edith Cowan University Australia a considerable deal of Joe’s time is dedicated to collaborative research. He was overall co-ordinator for the SMART and RESPECT projects dealing with surveillance and currently also co-ordinates MAPPING dealing with Internet Governance

A UK Chartered Information Technology Professional & Fellow of the British Computer Society, he also continues to act as Expert Consultant to a number of international organisations.

He has written books and articles on data protection law, liability for expert systems, legal aspects of medical informatics, copyright in computer software and co-authored various papers and textbook chapters on self-regulation and the Internet, the EU Constitution and data protection, on-line dispute resolution, data retention and police data. His latest book “The Individual & Privacy” is published by Ashgate (March 2015).

Special Rapporteurs

Special Rapporteurs are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. It is the general name of the council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address specific country situations or global issues. Special Rapporteurs are not UN staff and work on a voluntary basis. They are independent from any government or organisation and serve in their individual capacity.

The Australian Government has a standing open invitation for Special Rapporteurs to visit Australia. Prof Cannataci will not be conducting an official country mission during his time in Australia this May, but rather an awareness raising visit, in line with item (e) of his mandate from the UN Human Rights Council resolution 28/16.