The single set of rules for consumers and businesses take into account technological progress in the way our data is now collected, accessed and used and addresses the patchwork of laws across the EU, since European legislation was introduced in 1995.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the Commission’s Vice-President, said:
"The protection of personal data is a fundamental right for all Europeans, but citizens do not always feel in full control of their personal data. My proposals will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and in more control of their information.
Eighty per cent of UK internet users are concerned that they give away too much personal data, according to a Eurobarometer opinion poll. Just over a quarter of social network users (33%) and only 23% of online shoppers, say they feel in complete control of their personal data.
Key changes proposed to strengthen individuals' rights include:
- a reinforced right to be forgotten will help people manage data protection risks online better and ensure they can delete data if there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it;
- where consent is required it will have to be given explicitly, rather than assumed;
- serious data breaches will have to notified within 24 hours by companies and organisations where feasible;
- people will have better access to their own data and be able to transfer it between service providers easier;
- the EU rules will even apply to personal data processed abroad if the companies operate in the EU.
"One stop shop" – good for businesses too
A single set of rules on data protection valid across the EU will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administration burdens on businesses.
Companies will only have to deal with one single data protection authority, the national authority in the EU country where they are based, rather than 27 different authorities which happens today.
The proposals will now be discussed by EU ministers and Members of the European Parliament.