Saturday, 17 March 2012

A deluge of data protection events?

Do you often feel bemused by the volume of invitations received to both “free” and “commercial” privacy events these days? Do you ever wonder how on earth you are going to be able to get the day job done, let alone try to keep briefed on the latest issues? No wonder so many events are quite thinly attended. Reading about contemporary data protection matters is one thing. But getting up close to a speaker is something entirely different. And the gossip and the networking that goes on in the margins of these events can be of critical importance to a data protector on a mission. Or a job hunt.

One conference organiser was seriously unhappy when I recently replied to their phone call asking me if I was interested in attending a particular upcoming data protection event. After all, I was assured, the event had been precisely tailored to my immediate needs, so of course I was going to be interested in being corralled with a group of my peers to be spoken at for a couple of hours. Wasn’t I?

No, I wasn’t. I was already busy that day, and they ought to have known that. I was planning to attend a free event to get a very similar perspective from speakers just good as those that this conference organiser wanted to charge a significant sum of money for.

This unhappy exchange set a cunning plan running in my head, and one that I’ll be asking for your advice and support over. If it works, it will take off. If it doesn’t, well at least I tried.

My cunning plan is to publish an independent list of upcoming data protection events. It will have several purposes. From the perspective of the conference organiser, it will help remind everyone what’s already likely to be happening around that time, as that could have a very significant impact on attendee numbers (and thus the viability of the project). And from the perspective of the data protection officer, it may help remind people what is likely to be going on in the next few months, so that ever decreasing conference and training budgets can be focused on the events that are more likely to be of real value. And for conference speakers, it can help forewarn them about who else is currently on the circuit talking about “their” pet subject.

I’m not doing this for any financial reasons, but simply to share knowledge of what data protection events are being planned, and held. And to help us busy data protectors to better plan our time.

I started compiling the list some three weeks ago. 10 of these events have already happened, so I've moved them into a separate list. And there are another 25 in the pipeline. But I know I have not really begun to scratch the surface yet of privacy events that are likely to be of interest to a British data protector. But I think it may be useful to bring information about them all together into one place. So, please get in touch and help me add details of other credible events to the list.

If you are at all interested in this initiative, then please pop over to my serious data protection website and take a squint.

The list of upcoming events is here. The archive of past events is here.

I’ll review this initiative in a few months time and will report back.

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