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Is There an End in Sight for EU Data Protection Reform?

On 5 November 2014, Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), together with Germany’s Federal Data Protection Commissioner, Andrea Voβhoff, held a panel discussion in respect of the state of play and perspectives on EU data protection reform.

Although participants identified a number of key outstanding issues to be resolved prior to the conclusion of the reform process, there was some optimism that such issues could be overcome, and the process completed, before the end of 2015.

Background

The EDPS is an independent supervisory authority whose members are elected by the European Parliament and the Council in order to protect personal information and privacy, in addition to promoting and supervising data protection in the European Union’s institutions and bodies.  The role of the EDPS includes inter alia advising on privacy legislation and policies to the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council and working with other data protection authorities (DPA) to promote consistent data protection throughout Europe.

The proposed data protection regulation is intended to replace the 1995 Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC) (the Directive) and aims not only to give individuals more control over their personal data, but also make it easier for companies to work across borders by harmonising laws between all EU Member States.  The European Parliament and the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee have driven the progress on new data protection laws, but there has been frustration aimed at the Council of Ministers for their slow progress.  Following the vote by the European Parliament in March 2014 in favour of the new data protection laws, the next steps include the full Ordinary Legislative Procedure (co-decision procedure), which requires the European Parliament and the Council to reach agreement together.

The panel discussion attendees were made up of institutional representatives and key figures involved in the EU Data Protection Reform Package, including: Stefano Mura (Head of the Department for International Affairs at Italy’s Ministry of Justice); Jan Albrecht MEP (Vice-Chair and Rapporteur of the European Parliament LIBE Committee); and Isabelle Falque-Pierrotin (President of CNIL and Chair of the Article 29 Working Party).  The purpose of the panel discussion was to consider the outstanding issues and next steps to finalise proposals on EU data protection reform, particularly in the context of the recent CJEU rulings on data retention and the right to be forgotten.

Key Messages

The key points raised during the panel discussion included:

  • There is optimism that the reform process will be completed in the next year subject to resolving outstanding issues, such as:
    • Whether public authority processing should be included in the proposed data protection regulation – Andrea Voshoff commented that this issue was being considered by the Council of Ministers Committee in relation to the introduction of a clause preventing the lowering of standards by national laws.  Stefano Mura added that while there is a desire for both a uniform approach between the EU Member States and a right for Member States to regulate their own public sectors, a [...]

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In with the New, Part II: 2014 Privacy, Advertising and Digital Media Predictions

On the heels of 2014 predictions from the U.S.-based Of Digital Interest (ODI) editorial team, following are some predictions from our London-based editor, Rohan Massey:

Security breaches

Recent security breaches concerning consumer data in the retail industry have demonstrated the damage breaches of this kind can have on a business’ brand, with potential impact on share price. Such breaches highlight the pressing need for robust data security measures, and the commercial importance these issues can have on an organization’s brand value. It is likely that, as with intellectual property assets 25 years ago, we will begin to see a push, driven by shareholders and proactive management for data assets to be listed as an accounting line item in corporate accounts in the coming year.

Europe

The draft report of Rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht on the proposed Data Protection Regulations recently discussed by the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament has indicated that the Commission and the Rapporteur strongly support radical changes to the current data protection regime. As we enter the next stage of negotiations for the draft Regulation, this report could have a significant impact, with reforms not anticipated to be finalized until 2015. Within the next 12 months, a roadmap of terms and timelines for the new regime will likely be delivered. We can expect larger penalty capacity and a streamlined, if broader, regulatory framework, but as we know the devil remains in the detail.




Full Speed Ahead for EU Data Protection Reform

Data Protection Day 2014 (January 28) aims to raise awareness around what kind of data is collected about individuals, how it is used and why.

In marking this year’s Data Protection Day, Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU Justice Commissioner, is calling for “a new data protection compact for Europe.”  Reding continues to focus on EU data protection reform, with the objective of the swift adoption of the current draft Regulation and believes it should be “full speed on data protection in 2014.”  If adopted, the European Commission proposals will serve as a comprehensive reform of the EU 1995 Data Protection Directive, with the aim of strengthening data privacy and thereby boosting Europe’s digital economy.

To become law, the draft Regulation must be adopted by the European Parliament, which is expected to adopt the proposals in first reading in the April 2014 plenary session, the Council of the EU and the European Council. This is followed by Jan Philipp Albrecht, the member (MEP) in charge of the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE Committee), who has said that the current timetable targets scoping a mandate for negotiations during June with inter-institutional negotiations taking place in July.

So perhaps it will be full speed ahead for 2014 after all…




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