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Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship

Data Protection Day 2012: Safeguarding online privacy rights through modern data protection rules

Euro symbol on a computer keyboard © EU

The European Commission on Wednesday proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU's data protection rules. People in the EU have a right to personal data protection through the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Protecting this right is increasingly important as we leave digital traces with every move we make. The reform of today’s outdated legislation will safeguard online privacy rights and help boost Europe's digital economy.

Today's online services such as social networking sites and cloud computing go beyond the challenges which were around in 1995 when existing data protection law came into force. Moreover, although the 1995 Data Protection Directive guaranteed an effective protection of the fundamental right to data protection, it has been implemented differently by the 27 EU countries, leading to divergences in enforcement.

The Commission's proposals include a legally binding Regulation which sets out a general EU framework for data protection, and a Directive on protecting personal data used in judicial activities, such as prevention and investigation of criminal offences.

Announcing the proposals, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "My proposals will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and have more control of their information. The reform will accomplish this while making life easier and less costly for businesses."