Key Takeaways from GDPR Symposium in Geneva

Key Takeaways from GDPR Symposium in Geneva

Friday, 12 October, 2018

It was a great honor for us to be invited recently to take part in a symposium on GDPR and the International Data Flows organised by the The European Union Delegation to the UN in Geneva, the Permanent Mission of Austria in Geneva and the Geneva Internet Platform.

LEXcellence Managing Parter Katharina Lasota Heller joined a handful of other experts in international law, data privacy and European affairs on a panel to discuss various issues around the European Union’s new law (just over a year old) regarding the use and misuse of personal data.

This is an important time of reflection and at this stage of the journey towards a digitalised future - where data abounds - it is important that we consider where are and where we are going.

Here are a few key takeaways from the symposium.


More international commitments are needed in order to make GDPR a standard for protection of private data.

Without a full, broad consensus and support among governmental and non-governmental bodies, GDPR lacks the punch needed to be recognized and respected around the world. There is progress, but there is still a long ways to go.

GDPR is a good legal instrument, but still it lack clarity in some points.

Some of the panelists were speaking in high terms of the principle of “risk based approach”. Others felt that the lack of crystal clear guidelines in the GDPR may have its reasons - leaving room for interpretation and forcing extra cautious measures to be taken to allow for the lack of clarity.

GDPR got over-hyped.

All those who participated in the discussion agreed that the hysteria around GDPR was to a certain extent caused by lawyers and consultants who overinterpreted the requirements of GDPR.

GDPR is not entirely technology neutral.

Although GDPR was supposed to be based on the principle of technical neutrality, there are difficulties in applying it to blockchain.  The industry round blockchain id divided in their views; his is especially true with regards to the so-called “right to be forgotten.”Some say that in the case of blockchains or DLT, this can be a practically impossible to implement as information that is hashed to a blockchain cannot simply be “erased” and forgotten while others argue to the contrary.


All in all, they symposium offered a valuable opportunity to reflect on the successes - as well as drawbacks - of the (still) new legislation.

Let’s see what next year will bring!