By Patrick Van Eecke & Peter Craddock
Today, 29 March 2019, the Belgian House of Representatives appointed the new commissioner and directors of the Belgian Data Protection Authority (DPA). The commissioner will be dr. David Stevens, a seasoned data protection expert with a strong academic background and experience in the telco and data analytics industry.
Dr. Stevens will be assisted by four directors each having specific responsibilities within the restructured DPA. The directors are appointed for a period of six years, which is renewable once. The Belgian law also foresees that after three years of duty as commissioner, dr Stevens will be succeeded by the director of the Knowledge Centre.
BELGIAN DPA, AN AUTHORITY WITH SIX DEPARTMENTS
As a result of the General Data Protection Regulation the Belgian Privacy Commission was reformed into the Belgian Data Protection Authority consisting of six departments, namely an Executive Committee, a General Secretariat, a Front Office, a Knowledge Centre, an Inspection Service and a Litigation Chamber.
The Belgian House of Representatives was due to appoint its directors and members by May 25th 2018. However, most candidates lacked sufficient knowledge of German, Belgium’s third national language (next to Dutch and French).
For this reason, it was decided that the members of the former Belgian Privacy Commission would perform the tasks and exercise the power of the BDPA on an interim basis during this transitional period. However, as a result of today’s appointments, this situation has come to an end.
WHO ARE THE NEW DIRECTORS AND WHAT ARE THEIR RESPONSIBILITIES?
Dr David Stevens – Commissioner and Head of General Secretariat
The new Commissioner and Head of the General Secretariat will be dr David Stevens. Currently, dr Stevens is the European Data Protection Officer at Nielsen, a company in the media, advertising and e-commerce sectors offering its clients measurement of what people listen to, watch and buy. Before joining Nielsen, he was as the DPO of Telenet (a Belgian cable company of which the UK/US group ‘Liberty Global’ holds most of the shares). David Stevens started his career as an academic researcher and research manager at the KU Leuven Centre for IT & IP Law. He holds a doctoral degree of the KU Leuven.
The role of the General Secretariat is both supportive and executive. Its supporting tasks include the management of internal and external communications of the DPA. Drawing up the list of processing operations that require an impact analysis with regard to data protection (DPIA) and giving advice in the context of a DPIA (in the event of prior consultation for high-risk processing activities) to a controller are part of its executive tasks. It also has the competence to approve codes of conduct, and to promote the introduction of certification mechanisms.
Alexandra Jaspar – Head of the Knowledge Centre
The Head of the Knowledge Centre will be Alexandra Jaspar. Since 2005, Mrs Jaspar is a Senior Legal Counsel with a focus on intellectual propery, e-commerce, trade practices and data protection at the Belgian postal services company “bpost”. Prior to joining bpost, she worked as an Associate at the Intellectual Property and IT department of a Belgian law firm. Alexandra graduated with a Master in Law from the Northwestern University School of Law, Chicago-IL and from the University of Brussels.
The Knowledge Center is the unit that gives advice and recommendations on legislative or administrative measures and the social, economic and technological developments that have an impact on the processing of personal data.
Charlotte Dereppe – Head of the Front Office
The Head of the Front Office will be Charlotte Dereppe. Currently, Mrs Dereppe is the Advisor to the State Secretary for Privacy and responsible for the Belgian implementation of the GDPR. She was closely involved in the drafting of both the Belgian Data Protection Act of 30 July 2018 implementing the open provisions, derogations and additional requirements of the GDPR and transposing the 2016/680 Directive, as well as the Belgian Data Protection Authority Act of 3 December 2017.
The Front Office is the unit that receives the complaints and requests, verifies whether they satisfy the formal requirements and can initiate mediations between the parties.
Peter Van den Eynde – Head of the Inspectorate General
The Inspector General will be Peter Van den Eynde. Mr Van den Eynde has a longstanding relationship with the BDPA. Currently, he is legal advisor and head of the external relations department.
The Inspectorate General is the investigation body. It has the power to take investigative measures such as on-site inspections.
Hielke Hijmans – Litigation Chamber
The Head of the Litigation Chamber will be Hielke Hijmans. Currently, dr Hijmans works as an independent legal advisor and researcher. Prior to that, Hielke served for 12 years at the EDPS, a.o. as Head of Unit Policy & Consultations and worked at the CJEU in Luxembourg and at the Ministry of Justice in The Hague. He holds a double doctorate in law at the University of Brussels and the University of Amsterdam.
The Litigation Chamber is the administrative legal body that has the power to adopt corrective measures such as administrative fines.
The directors together form the Executive Committee, responsible for the internal organisation and the annual budget of the DPA.