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Promise and Peril: The GDPR as a global standard-setter for data protection


The Völkerrechtsblog is happy to announce a forthcoming online symposium on the impact of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on international law. The GDPR is not the only international legal instrument on data protection but it certainly is one of the most influential ones: Since it has become binding in May 2018 it has influenced several data protection reform processes around the world, inside as well as outside of the EU – notably also in the US and in India. Several big tech firms such as Facebook, Apple or Microsoft have called for the adoption of GDPR-style data protection rules in the US and worldwide, with the Microsoft CEO Nadella describing the GDPR as ‘setting the bar for how people need to think about privacy worldwide’. As the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy predicted it is likely that the GDPR will have a significant effect on the evolution of a world-wide privacy culture in the coming years. It is hence less the question whether the GDPR will have an impact on international law and the right to privacy but rather how significant this influence is going to be. The online symposium takes the occasion of the first anniversary of the GDPR becoming binding on the 25 May 2019 to create a platform for multi-angled perspectives on the GDPR and its influence on international law.

Contributions may address the following questions: Is the GDPR mainly a European data protection standard or is it an emerging global standard? How is the interplay between the GDPR and other international legal instruments on human rights and privacy, such as the Council of Europe Convention 108? Which role do bilateral arrangements, such as the EU-US Privacy Shield, play? Should the influence of the GDPR be unequivocally welcomed or is the borrowing of the GDPR in other parts of the world also cause of concern? Does the GDPR, and in particular the limits it sets for international data transfers, reinforce current trends towards a more territorially divided and nationalised cyberspace? How will the GDPR influence the international regulation of big data, open data or artificial intelligence? Contributions may also address conflicts and convergence of the GDPR with other international legal regimes, such as trade, investment or cyber security law.

Contributions should be around 1000-1500 words long, and are welcome in English, French, or German. The symposium will take place from the end of May to mid-June 2019, contributions will be received until 20 May 2019. Please send us your texts or inquiries to We are looking forward to your submissions!

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