One year ago, ahead of the European Data Protection Day 2012, the European Commission proposed a root and branch reform of the EU’s data protection rules to make them fit for the 21st century (IP/12/46). One year later, considerable headway has been made and negotiations on the new rules are progressing at full speed.
The reasons are clear: To flourish, the digital economy needs trust. Many people are not confident about giving out their personal data online. This means they are less likely to use online services and other technologies. Strong, reliable, consistently applied rules will make data processing safer, cheaper and strengthen people’s confidence. Confidence in turn drives growth. Some estimates show that EU GDP could grow by a further 4% by 2020 if the EU takes the necessary steps to create a modern digital single market.
“We live in a digital world in which personal data has enormous economic value. Already, a person’s location patterns can be captured and tracked. Soon, sensors will tell phones whether their users are alone or in a crowd,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner. “European businesses need to take advantage of this new computing and information-sharing landscape and European consumers need to be able to navigate safely though the digital age. A uniform and modern data protection law for the European Union is exactly what we need to secure trust and generate growth in the digital single market. I am working very hard to make sure that by next year’s Data Protection Day this reform will be in the statute book.”
On 26 October 2012 (SPEECH/12/764) and 18 January 2013 (SPEECH/13/29), European justice ministers held detailed discussions on the reform proposals, including the right to be forgotten, fines for organisations which mishandle personal data and the costs and benefits of the new rules for businesses. Meanwhile, on 8 January 2013, the European Commission welcomed the support for strong EU data protection rules expressed in the draft reports by the European Parliament on the reform proposals (MEMO/13/4). Both the European Parliament and ministers meeting in the Council of the EU will continue their discussions over the coming months under the Irish Presidency of the EU.
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