Spiros Simitis, leading European data protection expert, dead at 88

Spiros Simitis, leading European data protection expert, dead at 88

Spiros Simitis, a distinguished scholar and expert in the field of data protection, and brother of Greece’s former socialist prime minister Costas Simitis, passed away on Saturday, March 18, at the age of 88.

Born in Athens in 1934, Simitis began his academic career studying law at the University of Marburg in Germany from 1952 to 1956. He then went on to become a professor at the University of Giessen from 1964 to 1969, before being appointed a professor and director of the Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities at Goethe University Frankfurt am Main in 2008-2012, and of the university’s Data Protection Research Institute.

Simitis was also a renowned visiting professor at several prestigious universities including California-Berkeley, Strasbourg, Paris and Yale. He served as data protection commissioner of the Federal State of Hesse in Germany from 1975 to 1991 and as secretary-general of the International Commission on Civil Status from 1966 to 1980. Additionally, he was the chairman of the Council of Europe’s Data Protection Experts Commission from 1982 to 1986 and a member of the European Commission committee developing a Data Protection Regulation from 1993 to 1995.

Throughout his career, Simitis received many honors and accolades from international bodies and academic institutions, including honorary doctorates from the Democritus University of Thrace in 1992 and the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens in 2003. He was also named an honorary member of the German Lawyers Association in 2002 and in 2010 was awarded a Chancellor’s Citation by the University of California. 

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