Giovanni Buttarelli passed away in August of 2019 after holding the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) position for nearly five years. He was a well-regarded Italian civil servant official and judge. He was also a champion of data privacy and data ethics in the ever-growing digital age. He was well-recognized as a kind and selfless man, serving his family, the judiciary of his country, and the European Union’s (EU’s) values in life. Giovanni left this world with his family around him in his home country of Italy at 62 years of age.
His Time as European Data Protection Supervisor
As the EDPS. Giovanni Buttarelli oversaw how the EU’s privacy laws were implemented, in what was supposed to be a five-year term. He started the role in December 2014. monitoring all of the privacy-related decisions and practices of all EU-member institutions. He also served in a sort of visionary role for other EU-member policymakers.
Both the European Parliament and the Council decided to grant the role to Buttarelli in 2014. Previously, he served as assistant EDPS from January 2004 until December 2009. He also served as the Italian Data Protection Authority’s secretary-general from 1997 to 2009. Lastly, he served in the Italian justice system as a Cassation judge, working on issues related to data protection that impacted companies and people in many other countries.
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation
An outstanding achievement of Buttarelli’s role as EDPS was his creation of Europe’s GDPR, the General Data Protection Regulation. The GDPR’s laws will soon revamp how data privacy is handled globally. It is a systematic set of data protection laws meant to counter recent data-related abuses that have affected hundreds of millions of people’s personal data and security.
In addition to the GDPR, Buttarelli was adamant that regulators should firmly handle companies that abuse the trust and signed terms of services that many data users agree. Beyond striving to complete the implementation of the GDP R, he sought to enforce tighter regulations to rein in the behavior of technological and digital giants would stand much to gain from trampling on the privacy rights of ordinary consumers. While serving as EDPS, he hoped to combine the efforts of privacy and business regulators to create policies that would lead to greater harmony between business regulations, data protection, and consumer protection. In 2018, he hosted a data privacy conference focused on generating discussions and solutions to data ethics issues that the whole world is facing.
His Death’s Impact on the Data Protection Community
Giovanni Buttarelli’s death was mourned by the data protection community. Many of them are deeply saddened by the loss of a giant in the world of data privacy and data ethics in business and governmental affairs. For many years, he advocated for more excellent protection of people’s data. His efforts began in Italy, but would soon spread out into the broader EU and eventually impact most of the world. For his efforts, many who also champion data protection believe that they are in Buttarelli’s debt after his passing.