On January 24, 2023, the Albania Sustainable Development Organization (ASDO), in cooperation with the for the Information and Data Protection Commissioner, with the support of the Swiss Embassy in Albania, organized the round table regarding the topic “Digital Age and Data Protection Personnel within the Banking Sector“.
The round table brought together her Excellency Mrs. Ruth Huber, Commissioner for Information and Data Protection Mr. Besnik Dervishi, Expert on Personal Data Mr. Emirjon Marku, representatives of the Bank of Albania, representatives of second level banks, representatives of the Association of Banks in Albania, experts on Data Protection legislation in Albania, and representatives of the Albanian Center for Sustainable Development.
The “Cyber Security and Data Protection” project, supported by the Swiss Embassy in Albania, is developed as a response to the latest personal data and cyber security attacks in the country. The aim of this project is to increase the awareness of the general public and interest groups on personal data protection and cyber security. This activity was organized within the frame of the project and in accordance with the International Data Protection Week, bringing to attention the importance of the role of financial banking institutions in this field of action. Over the past few decades, financial technology innovations have brought many changes, such as credit/debit cards, online banking, and online payments. Banks have had to not only improve their systems to adapt to these changes, but also transform their processes to continuously ensure the security of their technologies in order to protect information and implement security measures that prevent data breaches.
In addition, customers of financial institutions should also be aware and vigilant to report any suspicious activity on their bank accounts to the bank. Customer awareness is as important for data protection in banks, as the implementation of security policies by these institutions themselves.
The meeting started with a welcoming message from the Executive Director of the Albania Sustainable Development Organization (ASDO) Ms. Ada Ilia, bringing to focus the aim of the project, as well as the purpose of the meeting. Then a welcoming message was shared by the Information and Data Protection Commissioner Mr. Besnik Dervishi, emphasizing the role of the institution as well as the necessity for continuous cooperation with banking institutions especially when it comes to the protection of personal data. He highlighted how important the banking sector is, given the level of highly qualified professionals of both the IT and Legal sector. Another important aspect was the adoption and the addressing of the GDPR regulation and the new draft-law in Albania regarding the protection of personal data.
Afterwards the Ambassador of Switzerland to Albania Ms. Ruth Huber, brought to attention the cases of data breaches that have happened over the last few years in Albania, and the impact they have had on the citizens, and the damage it costs to both their livelihood and privacy, as well as eroding their trust in state institutions and democracy. She emphasized the need for raising awareness in the general public and within financial and state institutions, and she was pleased that the Embassy of Switzerland to Albania has been helping with such an important topic and helping in building capacities in this field. She also expressed her gratitude to the Albania Sustainable Development Organization (ASDO) on bringing attention to the topic and taking steps forward to addressing the issue.
Then the round table proceeded with a presentation from the Data Protection Expert Mr. Emirjon Marku, regarding the legislation on data protection for the banking sector, by bringing cases and engaging the audience in bringing their own perspective and thoughts on the real-life challenges that the sector faces. The presentation was also useful in presenting the audience, which were professionals such as Cyber Security officers and Data Protection Officers, with the new proposed legislation on data protection and its connections to the GDPR regulation.
At the end there was a session of questions and answers, where some of the main topics addressed were: the overlapping of competencies and requirements that Albanian legislation has, as it pertains to personal data; the need for the banking and financial institution to be involved as advisors in order to express their needs, concerns and expertise in the protection of personal data; the collaboration of the Information and Data Protection Commissioner with the banking sector through the Albanian Association of Banks and lately but not lastly, the emphasis on the role of the banking sector and its professionals in overseeing and safeguarding their clients personal data.