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19th Jan 2019

Eight countries to miss EU data protection deadline

  • The GDPR gives people more control over their data (Photo: Alessio Milan)

Eight EU states will not be ready to fully enforce the EU's wide-reaching data protection law set for launch next week.

Despite having two years to get their domestic legal acts sorted, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Lithuania and Slovenia will not be ready until far beyond the 25 May deadline.

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The legislation is needed to ensure national authorities will have the necessary resources to impose sanctions for a law known as the general data protection regulation (GDPR).

"Inevitably there will be some kind of legal uncertainty and the commission doesn't like to see that," Vera Jourova, the European commissioner for justice, told reporters on Thursday (17 May).

Jourova said she would not hesitate to take the EU capitals to court in serious cases, noting that member states have had more than enough time to get their acts together. She blamed negligence and domestic debates for the delays.

"I think there was enough time," she said, noting that the draft final version of the regulation agreed by EU states had been sorted in December 2015.

The regulation gives people living in the EU control over how companies exploit their personal data anywhere in the world in an effort to uphold their privacy rights.

It has also rattled big Internet firms like Facebook and caused panic among smaller companies given violations could amount to either four percent of their annual global turnover or up to €20m in fines.

But some data authorities say they will still be able to impose sanctions and fines regardless of the missing national legislation.

"Our understanding is that there is no doubt that the information commissioner has authority to act as inspection body also under GDPR and issue fines as regulated by current Slovene legislation," Slovenia's data authority told EUobserver, in an email.

Only Austria, Germany, France, Croatia, the Netherlands, Sweden and Slovakia are ready with everyone else set to have their national acts passed by 25 May.

Others like Spain, Italy, Portugal, Romania and Latvia are expected to be ready either end of May or beginning of June.

Austria accused of undermining new EU data law

Most EU states have yet to pass the national laws needed to equip authorities with the resources to enforce the upcoming EU general data protection regulation. Austria, previously deemed a leader for high data standards, appears increasingly wary.

26 EU states not ready for data law

The European Commission on Wednesday said only Austria and Germany have passed the relevant draft laws needed to ensure the launch of the EU's general data protection regulation on 25 May:

Focus

Are EU data watchdogs staffed for GDPR?

The success of the new general data protection regulation (GDPR) will depend on whether data protection authorities enforce the new rules - which, in turn, will be at least partly determined by how many people they employ.

New GDPR enforcer says complaints imminent

The European Data Protection Board is a new EU body tasked with enforcing the EU's privacy laws with powers to impose massive fines. Its head Andrea Jelinek told reporters complaints against companies are expected to be immediate.

Privacy Shield less relevant given GDPR, says data chief

Giovanni Buttarelli, the European data protection supervisor, says the EU-US data sharing pact known as Privacy Shield will play an increasingly minor role given the general data protection regulation.

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