Raising awareness and strengthening data protection skills with European funds

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SEM assists 19 government entities through 17 submitted applications for European funds, with 17 projects selected

With the assistance of Servizzi Ewropej f’Malta, the Office of the Information and Data Protection Commissioner (IDPC), which is responsible for overseeing the application of data protection law, obtained European funding for an awareness campaign on the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and to provide assistance in its operation to businesses, specifically to SMEs.

This project addresses this need for assistance and training when it comes to the GDPR, by raising awareness among the public and among businesses. The project develops an online tool that can be used by businesses, particularly SMEs, to know their level of compliance with the GDPR, identify shortcomings, react, and facilitate compliance. Conferences will also be organized in Malta and Gozo for data protection officers in the private sector, to be informed about the rights and obligations of the GDPR, and about the use and benefits of the self-assessment tool.

Information and Data Protection Commissioner Ian Deguara explained that the project addresses the need to increase the knowledge and skills required by the GDPR. Each week, the IDPC receives a number of calls and emails for assistance and also receives official complaints from individuals alleging a breach of their data protection rights. The IDPC also receives requests for advice on the interpretation of GDPR provisions and about measures that need to be implemented, to ensure compliance with the law. In addition, the IDPC also receives requests for meetings with controllers, where they are advised on data protection.

Head of SEM Mandy Falzon explained how the agency helps government entities such as the IDPC to apply for European funds, leading to worthy projects that translate into better service to the public and businesses.

Minister Carmelo Abela said that this project signifies how European funds can be used to strengthen human resources, which in Malta is the greatest resource for economic growth and development of the country. In fact, from 2019 to date, SEM has helped 19 different government entities to submit a total of 27 applications for European Union funded projects, of which 17 have been selected. Investing in people is important and just as important is the investment in SMEs. These European funds complement well to better fulfil the European Union’s priorities, in this case for the safety and security of citizens and businesses in our country.

Minister Edward Zammit Lewis stated that he is “looking forward to further seeing awareness campaigns and projects of this type at the national level. In doing so we can continue to educate our citizens about their rights and obligations in regard to data retention. Undoubtedly, any work which strengthens the justice pillar in society, will pave the way to more trust among the public and all those who process data—seeing to this will strengthen good governance.”

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