Julien Debussche
  • Booking.com
Julien Debussche

Julien Debussche

  • Booking.com

What do you do?

After spending about 10 years in private practice in Brussels in the fields of IP/IT and data, I moved to an in-house role at Booking.com in Amsterdam. I started my career assisting clients on soft IP and TMT-related matters. I then specialised in privacy, security and issues concerning data in general. I notably advised clients and performed research in several EU-funded projects on topics such as data ownership and intricate privacy and cybersecurity issues in various fields, including cloud computing, big data and AI.

In my current role, I advise internally on numerous data- and privacy-related issues, with a particular focus on marketing and adtech. I also assist with negotiations of contracts on privacy, security and data-related aspects, help determine global data strategies and handle incidents and questions from supervisory authorities.

Why data?

Data issues were relatively new when I started specialising in this field. It raised interesting novel questions that led to the adoption of key legal instruments such as the GDPR or the Free Flow of non-Personal Data Regulation.

What’s keeping you busy?

The life of any data and privacy professional is rather busy with the many regulatory developments in the EU but also around the world in relation to privacy, cybersecurity, platforms or data in general. In particular, the possible impact of EU initiatives such as the ePrivacy regulation, the Digital Services Act, the Digital Markets Act or the Data Governance Act keep me busy. Similarly, I spend time examining and understanding developments in the field of adtech.

What mentors or other influential figures have helped you get where you are today?

Benoit Van Abroeck (Bird & Bird) has been a great mentor and taught me a lot, notably to draft and negotiate complex IT contracts and to handle litigation before national courts and the ECJ. More importantly, Benoit instilled in me the importance to think outside the box, to have a creative legal mind and to make sure that every legal advice is helpful, practical and ready to be used.

I have also been greatly influenced by the work and publications of Benjamin Docquir, Jean-Paul Triaille, Vincent Cassiers and Alain Strowel.

If you could change one data-related law, how and why would you change it?

I believe that all data and privacy-related legislation ought to be regularly reviewed and adjusted accordingly over time in order to adapt to technological developments and to align them with practical reality. One of these pieces of legislation is of course the ePrivacy Directive, which is currently being revised by the EU institutions.

How has covid-19 affected what you do?

Apart from working from home of course, covid-19 has had little impact on the content of my daily work.

What’s the next big thing – what data opportunities are companies now looking at?

Many companies will need to rethink their (data) strategy in order to advertise their products and services in a different way that is less dependent on third-party cookies, while adopting new technical and legal solutions.

What’s keeping companies worried at the moment – what are some key data risks?

Any global company is confronted with the challenge of keeping up with the numerous data and privacy-related legislative instruments proposed and/or adopted across the world.

What do you do to relax?

I love going for long walks. This enables me to clear my mind and to reflect on certain issues.

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