Monday

22nd Jan 2018

Focus

EU agrees data protection regime, details to follow

  • 'These new pan-European rules are good for citizens and good for businesses,' says the EU commission (Photo: chiara marra)

Members of the European Parliament and national governments agreed on Tuesday (15 December) how to best protect European citizens' personal information online.

Europeans will have the right to object to being targeted by online advertisers, to carry their data from one service to another, and to have personal data deleted if they want to.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The new data protection rules have been under discussion for almost four years since the European Commission proposed them in January 2012. The reform aims to update rules which stem from as far back as 1995.

On Tuesday evening, MEPs and member states reached a compromise deal in a meeting behind closed doors, mediated by the European Commission.

As of Wednesday morning, the rules themselves had not yet been made public - there are only jubilant press releases from the three EU institutions.

“It is a fundamental agreement with significant consequences,” said Felix Braz, justice minister for Luxembourg, which had negotiated on behalf of the member states.

“This reform not only strengthens the rights of citizens, but also adapts the rules to the digital age for companies, whilst reducing the administrative burden,” added Braz.

EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova said the new rules are “fit for the digital age” and that there was no winner or loser.

“These new pan-European rules are good for citizens and good for businesses,” noted Jourova.

For his part, MEP Jan Phillipp Albrecht, who spoke on behalf of parliament, said the compromise was “a major step forward for consumer protection and competition.”

But much will rely on details of the rules.

For example, the commission's press release said they will give Europeans “a right to data portability: it will be easier to transfer your personal data between service providers."

But how this will work in practice is unclear.

Does it mean that all messages sent via one application, must be allowed to be transferred to another one? That may require significant technical adjustments from most digital services.

The commission also noted there would be a “clarified” right to be forgotten - the idea that personal data can be deleted when requested.

Since a 2014 ruling by the EU's Court of Justice, there has been a de facto right to be forgotten, but only for information which is accessible via search engines and is “inadequate, irrelevant."

The new rules seem to involve broader justification. According to the commission's description, “when you no longer want your data to be processed, and provided that there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it, the data will be deleted."

But who will determine what “legitimate" grounds are?

Fines for Facebook?

What is clear, is that it will become more costly for companies who break EU data protection rules, also for American companies like Google and Facebook, to which the rules equally apply.

“In future, firms breaching EU data protection rules could be fined as much as 4 percent of annual turnover - for global internet companies in particular, this could amount to billions,” said Albrecht, of the Green group in parliament.

“In addition, companies will also have to appoint a data protection officer if they process sensitive data on a large scale or collect information on many consumers,” he noted.

The parliament's civil liberties committee will vote on the compromise on Thursday morning (17 December) in Strasbourg.

It will then need approval from the plenary of the parliament, as well as from member states. Following this, a two-year implementation period will apply, meaning it could be until early 2018 before the rules are in force.

EU data chief says passenger information bill is unjustified

European data protection supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, says there is not enough information to justify the necessity of the EU Passenger Name Record scheme, which stores and can divulge the personal details of passengers flying in and out of Europe.

Stakeholder

European insight from the Huawei Global Connectivity Index

The economy of all countries is transforming into a digital economy whether they like it or not. Huawei's Global Connectivity Index provides an indicator of which EU countries are best poised for development and growth.

News in Brief

  1. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  2. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time
  3. CSU politicians set to oppose concessions to SPD
  4. Greek mass protests against use of 'Macedonia' in name dispute
  5. Oxfam report reveals inequality as Davos elite gather
  6. Macron: France would probably have voted to quit EU
  7. Germany confirms attendance at air quality summit
  8. Nearly half of 'fixed' Dieselgate cars show problems

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  2. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  3. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on the agenda This WEEK
  4. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  5. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems
  6. UK loses EU satellite centre to Spain
  7. Pay into EU budget for market access, Macron tells May
  8. Ethiopian regime to get EU migrants' names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap