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More safeguards for online privacy rights - 25/01/2012

Proposals would introduce a single set of rules giving individuals more control over how their personal data is managed and used.

A recent survey on attitudes on data protection in the EU has found that:

  • 2 out of 3 Europeans are worried that companies share their personal data without their permission
  • 9 out of 10 want the same data protection rights across Europe.

To address these concerns, the Commission is proposing to update the EU’s data protection law. The changes would introduce a single set of rules on data protection, valid across the EU.

Protecting people

The proposals include:

  • increasing responsibility and accountability – companies would have to notify their clients of any theft or accidental release of personal data
  • clarifying that where someone's consent is required before a company reuses their personal data, they need to give that consent explicitly – people would also have access to their own private data and be able to transfer it to another service provider more easily
  • reinforcing the ‘right to be forgotten’ – people will be able to have their personal data deleted if a business or other organisation has no legitimate reasons for keeping it
  • applying EU rules when personal data is processed outside Europe – people would be able to involve the national data protection authority in their country, even when their data is processed by a company based outside the EU.

Good for business

A single set of rules would encourage a more consistent application of the law across the EU. Businesses would have clear rules on how to treat private information.

And red tape would be cut, saving businesses an estimated €2.3bn a year. For example, companies would only have to deal with a single national data protection authority in the EU country where they have their main operations.

Better enforcement

The new rules would give national data protection authorities powers to enforce the EU rules more rigorously.

For crime investigations, a separate law would apply to the exchange of data.

Next steps

The proposals complement the EU's drive to encourage more online commerce by improving consumer trust – contributing to economic growth and job creation. They must be approved by EU governments and the European Parliament before becoming law.

More on the proposals to revise the EU’s data protection law

More on data protection in the EU

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