11th EDEN conference on data protection in law enforcement: Addressing challenges and opportunities in Madrid

by Lorraine Williamson
EDEN conference

MADRID – Madrid recently hosted the 11th EDEN Conference on Data Protection in Law Enforcement. This crucial event delved into the multifaceted world of data security and privacy in the realm of policing.

The two-day event took place on September 18th and 19th. It was organised by the Guardia Civil, in collaboration with the Ministry of Interior and the Academy of European Law (ERA), and under the auspices of the Spanish Presidency of the European Union.

The conference brought together distinguished experts and professionals in the field of data protection. This included Catherine de Bolle, the Executive Director of Europol, and Wojociech Wiewiorowski, the European Data Protection Supervisor. With 233 attendees, it featured an array of topics crucial to modern law enforcement and data security.

The evolving landscape of data protection

One of the key themes explored during the conference was the evolving landscape of data protection. And in particular, the context of rapidly advancing technology and a complex digital world. Balancing the need for effective policing with safeguarding individuals’ privacy and civil liberties in this digital age presents a challenge. Consequently, this conference aimed to address precisely these concerns.

The 11th EDEN Conference is part of a series of meetings organised by the Red de Expertos en Protección de Datos de Europol (EDEN). At least one of these gatherings is held in person every year, coinciding with a training activity organised by the Academy of European Law (ERA). The alternating venues include Europol’s headquarters in The Hague and the capital of another EU Member State, where it is organised by a law enforcement agency from that country. Previous editions took place in Copenhagen in 2019 and Rome in 2021.

This year’s decision to hold the conference in Madrid was born from discussions at the 2022 EDEN Conference at Europol. Moreover, it was here the interest in having the next event in the Spanish capital was expressed. The Guardia Civil stepped up to organise this significant gathering, which brought together members of law enforcement agencies, EDEN participants, professionals from various European police forces, legal experts, and individuals involved in personal data protection.

Throughout the conference, several pressing issues were addressed:

Vulnerabilities of smartphones and IoT devices:

The conference explored the primary vulnerabilities associated with smartphones, smart home devices, and other portable gadgets. It also looked at their implications for both individuals and law enforcement.

Complexities of technological advancements:

The event delved into the complexities and implications of cutting-edge technological advancements in data protection and law enforcement.

Risk management and collaboration:

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Experts discussed risk management, collaboration, planning, communication, adaptability, and agility in the realm of cybersecurity and data protection.

Data protection challenges for law enforcement:

The conference also examined the foremost challenges faced by those responsible for data protection within law enforcement agencies.

Facial recognition technology:

Furthermore, a special focus was given to the latest trends in facial recognition technology in policing. This included algorithms and their accuracy, as well as the associated data protection considerations.

Mobile device challenges:

Delegates discussed the obstacles law enforcement agencies encounter in retrieving information from mobile phones, the use of end-to-end encryption, and concerns regarding privacy and potential misuse.

Personal information exchange:

The conference also explored the exchange of personal information between intelligence services and law enforcement agencies, addressing the complex interplay of security and privacy.

The insights and discussions at the 11th EDEN Conference underscored the paramount importance of data protection in law enforcement, as well as the need for ongoing dialogue and collaboration to meet the challenges posed by our ever-evolving digital world. In an era where technology and privacy intersect in complex ways, this conference served as a vital platform for professionals to collectively shape the future of data protection and policing in Europe and beyond.

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