Symposium on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action

On 8 November, the ‘Symposium on Cybersecurity and Data Protection in Humanitarian Action’ took place at the European Convention Center in Luxembourg City. Around 120 people attended the event.

The symposium was organised by the International Committee of the Red Cross, in collaboration with the Luxembourg Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs (Directorate for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Affairs), the CNPD, Cybersecurity Luxembourg, the Luxembourg House of Cybersecurity, the Luxembourg Red Cross and the University of Luxembourg (SNT). Its aim? To bring together experts from the public, private and humanitarian sectors, as well as academia and civil society, to discuss key legal, strategic and operational issues that humanitarian organisations face because of the digital transformation.

Tine A. Larsen, chair of the CNPD, was one of six people invited to speak during the conference’s opening session. She explained the CNPD’s interest in humanitarian action as a field where data protection has become a growing concern.

Afterwards, attendees were divided into 6 working groups to deliberate on questions related to data protection, independence, and technology and training solutions for humanitarian organisations in a digital environment. Arnaud Habran, head of the Guidance department at the CNPD, was chair of the second working group. They were debating ways to ensure that international organisations have access to necessary information while respecting data protection obligations. Alain Herrmann, commissioner at the CNPD, was chair of the third working group, which discussed the risks that hacking and surveillance pose to the impartiality and independence of humanitarian organisations.

Roberta Oertel, head of the Awareness department, Aleksandra Gucwa, European and international relations officer, Solène Bennet, legal expert in the Investigations department, and Stéphanie Mathieu, an associate at the Awareness department, were also representing the CNPD at the conference.

The symposium highlighted the fact that nowadays, all public actors, including humanitarian organisations, must assume their responsibilities in terms of data protection. The ongoing digitalisation of information presents numerous risks that must be addressed but also unique opportunities that can innovate and facilitate humanitarian work. 

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