Smart, sustainable, inclusive Europe’: only with stronger and more effective data protection

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The lobbying surrounding the current review of the EU data protection law by organisations both from Europe and elsewhere has been exceptional. Following the presentation of his Annual Report of activities for 2012 to the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) at the European Parliament today, the EDPS warned the EU legislator to guard against undue pressure from industry and third countries to lower the level of data protection that currently exists and instead seize the opportunity to ensure stronger and more effective protection to individuals across the EU.

The current legislation for data protection was adopted 18 years ago at a time when the internet barely existed. An update is long overdue and the EDPS is closely involved in the ongoing work on the reform. The review process has attracted enormous attention from industry alleging that data protection rules are a hindrance to innovation.

Peter Hustinx, EDPS, said: “The benefits for industry should not – and do not need to – be at the expense of our fundamental rights to privacy and data protection. The integration of data protection principles in technical innovation or in the transfer of our personal information to relevant bodies, in the interests of security for example, can add significant value, both in terms of efficiency and lower costs, if privacy is built into the design of processes from the outset.”

Giovanni Buttarelli, Assistant Supervisor, added: “Data protection is entirely compatible with innovation and should not simply be ignored to make way for short term gains. Privacy principles mean that individuals should know and be able to control what their personal information will be used for and have the right to recourse if they are unfairly targeted or discriminated against.”

In 2012, as outlined in our Annual Report, we made tangible progress in becoming more efficient and encouraging effective data protection in practice.

In our consultation work on new legislative measures proposed by the European Commission, we issued a record number of opinions on a range of subjects. This is a testimony to the growing relevance of data protection in all areas of EU policy. The pervasive use of information and communication technologies in virtually all fields of life and social activity means that our priorities for 2013, as laid out in our inventory, extend beyond the area of freedom, security and justice and the EU Digital Agenda and include the internal market and the health sector, to name but two. Here to read more.

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