International

Giovanno Buttarelli, EU's Data Protection Supervisor, Dies At 62

Giovanno Buttarelli, EU's Data Protection Supervisor, Dies At 62

The top data protection supervisor in Europe has passed away at the age of 62, according to reports.

Giovanno Buttarelli’s death was announced by his office.

“It is with the deepest regret that we announce the loss of Giovanni Buttarelli, the European Data Protection Supervisor. Giovanni passed away surrounded by his family in Italy, last night, 20 August 2019,” the statement said.

“We are all profoundly saddened by this tragic loss of such a kind and brilliant individual. Throughout his life, Giovanni dedicated himself completely to his family, to the service of the judiciary and the European Union and its values. His passion and intelligence will ensure an enduring and unique legacy for the institution of the EDPS and for all people whose lives were touched by him.”

The message signed off with the words: “Ciao Giovanni.”

Buttarelli’s role in his organization was instrumental, as he was tasked with monitoring how EU privacy rules were put in place. He was to hold the position for a five-year term, beginning in December 2014.

Buttarelli oversaw the organization’s implementation of one of the strongest pieces of data privacy initiatives in the world, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which started last year. The regulation helped to keep large tech companies in check and to protect the rights and privacy of citizens in the EU.

Buttarelli believed that in addition to the overview of data issues, regulators needed to look at “real cases like that of Facebook’s terms of service.”

He also thought further action was needed beyond the GDPR to ensure that tech companies were operating in fair and ethical ways. Buttarelli wanted privacy and competition regulators to collaborate, so they could “adopt a position on the intersection of consumer protection, competition rules and data protection,” and also make “structural remedies to make the digital market fairer for people.”

Buttarelli believed that laws alone would never be enough to stop tech companies from using data unfairly. He was adamant about the necessity for fairness online, espousing that discrimination online “is not the kind of democracy we deserve.”

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