Data protection on social networks is also one of the hot topics in the context of the modernisation of the EU's data protection directive. Vice-President Reding, the EU's Justice Commisisoner, presented her views on the modernisation of the 1995 data protection rules in November last year. One of the key elements proposed in the new rules is the so-called "right to be forgotten", meaning that once you delete your data from a social network for example, they should really be deleted. Consumers should not suddenly discover that there are still photos online despite having cancelled their social network account or deleted the pictures.
"Internet users must have effective control of what they put online and be able to correct, withdraw or delete it at will. What happens if you want to permanently delete your profile on a social networking site? Can this be done easily? The right to be forgotten is essential in today's digital world," said Vice-President Reding.
The press release on the modernisation of the data protection rules (from November) contains more information and is available in all EU languages here: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=IP/10/1462&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN
Regarding next steps: the public consultation ended on 15 January. Legislative proposals are expected towards this summer.
A must to see: 55 seconds clip on privacy on social networks:
Malta takes part in Data Protection Day
The Office of the Prime Minister organised a conference marking the Council of Europe’s Day dedicated for Personal Data Protection, which falls on January 28th. The day also commemorated the 20th anniversary since the European Union laid the convention on automatic data processing.
The conference, held at the Mediterranean Conference Centre, was aimed at public officials in charge for data processing. Government hopes this will lead to a series of activities that will increase awareness on data protection and their rights in the processing procedures, amongst all European citizens.
On addressing the conference Dr Godwin Grima, Principal Permanent Secretary and Head of the Maltese Public Service, highlighted the importance the European Union places on the legal issues when it comes to data protection. He added that with the introduction of the convention on data protection a new dimension to personal data processing was added.
Dr Grima also commented on the progress in the civil sector, the training made available and the twinning agreement which was also financed by the European Union.
Mr Liam Duncan, an official from the Commission of Information in the United Kingdom, was the guest speaker and accounted for the challenges which the public sector in the United Kingdom faces. Mr Joseph Ebejer, Data Protection Commissioner in Malta, then commented on proposals for changes in the Directive for Data Protection in the European Union. He added that these changes will affect both entities and individuals.
The EU’s data protection rules are more than 15 years old. They have stood the test of time, but now they need to be modernised to reflect the new technological landscape. The European Commission said it will propose changes to the 1995 Data Protection Directive later this year.
"Effective data protection is vital for our democracies and underpins other fundamental rights and freedoms," said European Commission Vice-President Viviane Reding, responsible for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "We need to balance privacy concerns with the free flow of information, which helps create economic opportunities. These are the questions I want to address with our proposals to modernise the EU's data protection rules during 2011."
Issues of privacy and data protection have not been far from the headlines in recent years. Technology has been advancing at an exponential rate, bringing dramatic changes in the way that personal data are used to provide goods and services. This applies especially to the online environment – from banking and travel to social networking. The sharing of personal data is also part of ensuring a secure and safe society.