EU Commission proposes new rules for data protection

Today the European Commission proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules. The objectives of the proposal are to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. The proposals include a policy Communication setting out the Commission’s objectives and two legislative proposals: a Regulation setting out a general EU framework for data protection and a Directive on protecting personal data processed for the purpose of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences and related judicial activities.

The key elements of the propsal are:

  • A single set of rules on data protection, valid across the EU.
  • Companies and organisations must notify the national supervisory authority of serious data breaches as soon as possible (if feasible within 24 hours).
  • 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). This will improve competition among services.
  • 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.
  • 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. They will be empowered to fine companies that violate EU data protection rules. This can lead to penalties of up to €1 million or up to 2% of the global annual turnover of a company. 

Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner explained: “The protection of personal data is a fundamental right for all Europeans, but citizens do not always feel in full control of their personal data. My proposals will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and in more control of their information.“ Monique Goyens, Director General of the European Consumer Organization BEUC welcomed the proposal: “Today the EU is taking a large step towards giving data rights back to its rightful owners, individuals themselves.“

The Commission’s proposals will now be passed on to the European Parliament and EU Member States for discussions. They will take effect two years after they have been adopted.


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Sources: European Commission and BEUC