When Wojciech Wiewiórowski took over the European Data Protection Supervisor role from the late Giovanni Butarelli in 2019, he had a tough act to follow. The Italian was on first-name terms with Big Tech CEOs and had a stature and star status the former data miner and Polish bureaucrat would always struggle to match.
More than two years into his mandate, though, Wiewiórowski is making waves. He’s gone toe-to-toe with the European Commission on encryption and Europol, spoken out against targeted ads and facial recognition, and broken a Brussels taboo: daring to question whether the EU’s flagship General Data Protection Regulation is up to scratch. As if that wasn’t enough, he’s organizing a conference this summer that will make the GDPR’s efficacy the central pillar of discussion.
The Pole has emerged as a fierce voice on the key issues. On the EU’s sprawling online content and digital competition rules, he called for a ban on most forms of online targeted advertising. He was at it again for a planned proposal on political ads, calling for stricter rules, while for the bloc’s AI Act proposal, he pushed for a ban on the use of facial recognition in public spaces.
He’s also shown he’s not afraid to put people’s noses out of joint, clashing with European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson on several occasions, particularly over Europol’s data-processing powers and balancing privacy rights with fighting child sexual abuse material online.
What to watch out for this year: All eyes will be on the European Data Protection Supervisor’s June conference exploring how to improve enforcement of the GDPR, and whether that leads to reforms.
What’s their superpower: Having a sense of humor. The topics may be serious, but the Pole has a knack for self-deprecating delivery — not to mention a wardrobe of 80s band T-shirts — that lightens the mood.
Influence score: 19/30