Saturday

31st Oct 2020

EU backs down on 'right to be forgotten' online

  • Reding wants to 'build on existing rules' when ensuring privacy online (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

After intense lobbying by online companies from Europe and the US, the European Commission has softened its stance on the 'right to be forgotten' in preparation of an overhaul of the bloc's data privacy rules due early next year.

"We need a framework for privacy that protects consumers and encourages the digital economy to grow," EU justice and fundamental rights commissioner Viviane Reding said Monday (29 November) at en event organised by the American Chamber of Commerce in Brussels.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

Unlike in March, when she delivered a barnstorming speech in the European Parliament that declared a new "right to be forgotten" and "burden of proof" that should be placed on online companies to justify why they need to store personal data, now Reding mentioned this only briefly towards the end of her intervention.

"The right to be forgotten should build on existing rules. If one doesn't want his data to be stored any longer and there is no legitimate need for the company to keep it, then data should be removed," she said.

Picking up on long-standing complaints from the industry that data privacy rules across Europe are too fragmented and costly to implement, Reding promised to deliver a "one-stop shop" for privacy rules, with new legislation that will be binding for all 27 member states.

However, companies will have to only have to adhere to the national law of the EU country where their main operations, headquarters or data storage facility lies.

The commissioner also said the new law will "drastically" cut back on red tape and create a "more business-friendly environment." Companies such as Google and Facebook will no longer be required to send general notifications to data protection authorities in each member state, but instead "will focus on those requirements which enhance legal certainty."

The current data protection rules date back to 1995 at the dawn of the internet age and long before social networks such as Facebook and Twitter had appeared.

But the revamped legislation is already two years behind schedule and even if put forward in January, by the time it will be implemented in national law, technology is very likely to have evolved still further and brought about new privacy problems that will not be covered by it.

EU to press for 'right to be forgotten' online

The EU is in the process of revamping its data privacy rules dating back to 1995 so as to encompass social networks, online data aggregators and the way prosecutors and policemen across the bloc handle personal records.

News in Brief

  1. Polish government rows back on abortion ruling
  2. EU threatens legal action against Poland on rule of law
  3. 'Several dead' after earthquake hits Greece and Turkey
  4. Hungary faces EU court over asylum restrictions
  5. Polish PM urges end to abortion protests to 'protect elderly'
  6. EU to fund cross-border hospital transfers
  7. Some 140 migrants drown on way to Spanish islands
  8. EU central bank preparing new rescue measures

Corruption failures also highlighted in rule of law report

The European Commission's first report on the rule of law has raised concerns over the lack of effective anti-corruption efforts in some members sates - while it considers Denmark, Finland, Sweden and the Netherlands have good governance measures.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAMaking healthier diets the easy choice
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersUN Secretary General to meet with Nordic Council on COVID-19
  3. UNESDAWell-designed Deposit Return Schemes can help reach Single-Use Plastics Directive targets
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council meets Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tichanovskaja
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to invest DKK 250 million in green digitalised business sector
  6. UNESDAReducing packaging waste – a huge opportunity for circularity

Latest News

  1. Nice attack: EU urges world leaders to stop hate speech
  2. Europe is back in (partial) lockdown
  3. Gender equality still 60 years away, warns study
  4. I'm an 'election observer' - but what do we actually do?
  5. Deal in reach on linking EU funds to rule of law
  6. EU Commission's Covid-19 expert offers bleak outlook
  7. Belgium's collaboration with Sudan's secret service: my story
  8. What do ordinary Belarusians want from the EU?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us