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EU data protection rules set for overhaul

Posted by Nick Prag at 18 June 2015, 15:55 CET |
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New data protection rules agreed by justice ministers this week give the Council a mandate to start talks with the European Parliament, now set for 24 June.

Euro-MPs have been waiting to get down to talks since adopting their own position in March last year. They will now look to agree a roadmap towards finalisation of the reform by the end of 2015.

There are a number of aims for the new rules: to enable people to better control their personal data; to modernise rules to allow businesses to make the most of the opportunities of the Digital Single Market, cutting red tape and providing reinforced consumer trust; and to provide citizens, businesses and public authorities with a more rigorous and coherent data protection framework, with greater legal and practical certainty.

A single set of rules on data protection across the EU would mean that companies deal with one law instead of 28 - a saving to business of around EUR 2.3 billion a year.

Removal of unnecessary red tape, such as notification requirements for companies, would save SMEs around EUR 130 million per year.

For Internet users, the right to be forgotten will be reinforced, with data having to be deleted if there is no good reason to keep it.

Companies from outside Europe will have to apply the same rules when offering services in the EU.

There will be more powers for independent national data protection authorities, to properly enforce the rules.

And a 'one-stop shop' for businesses and citizens will mean companies have to deal with only one single supervisory authority, not 28.

EU legislation on data protection currently dates back to 1995, according to MEP Claude Moraes, who will chair the talks – when internet access, smart phones or social media were not part of daily life as they are today.

There will be differences, notably on consumer rights and the duties of businesses.

But the fact that the EU is at last pushing ahead with data protection reform will encourage many people in the business, hoping for instance to make better use of innovative digital services, such as big data and cloud computing.

The EU institutions will now put their efforts into forging a final agreement by the end of this year.

Stronger data protection rules for Europe - background guide
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Nick Prag

Nick Prag

Nick Prag is founder and managing editor of Prior to EUbusiness, he was senior editor at Europe Online SA in Luxembourg, where he played a major part in the launch of Europe Online International.