The Commission proposes to reform EU's data protection rules

The European Commission proposes to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe's digital economy throughout a reform of the EU's 1995 data protection rules. According to the Commission, the initiative will help reinforce consumer confidence in online services, providing a much needed boost to growth, jobs and innovation in Europe.

The proposal to reform the EU's 1995 data protection rules was presented by the EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the Commission’s Vice-President. The Commissioner underlines that the reform is needed because vast amounts of personal data are transferred and exchanged on Internet, across continents and around the globe in fractions of seconds. Ms Reding also highlighted that the reform will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and in more control of their information. The Commission announced this revision for 2011 but it has finally been in 2012.

The key changes in the reform are a single set of rules on data protection, valid across the EU; instead of the current obligation of all companies to notify all data protection activities to data protection supervisors, the Regulation provides for increased responsibility and accountability for those processing personal data; organisations will only have to deal with a single national data protection authority in the EU country where they have their main establishment; people will have easier access to their own data and be able to transfer personal data from one service provider to another more easily (right to data portability); a ‘right to be forgotten’ will help people better manage data protection risks online: people will be able to delete their data if there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it; the EU rules must apply if personal data is handled abroad by companies that are active in the EU market and offer their services to EU citizens; independent national data protection authorities will be strengthened so they can better enforce the EU rules at home; and a new Directive will apply general data protection principles and rules for police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters. The rules will apply to both domestic and cross-border transfers of data.

In addition, the Commission also assures that the reform will make life easier to Europeans and less costly for businesses. Ms Reding stressed that a strong, clear and uniform legal framework at EU level will help to unleash the potential of the Digital Single Market and foster economic growth, innovation and job creation.