Saturday

22nd Sep 2018

GDPR - a global 'gold standard'?

  • Mexico's national laws overlap with the GDPR - but are not as rigid (Photo: Sonya)

EU officials and lawmakers like to say the general data protection regulation (GDPR) is setting a new global standard.

They say people living in the European Union will have more control over how their personal data is exploited by companies all around the world and that other states will reform or create new laws to respect privacy rights.

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Among them is European justice commissioner Vera Jourova, who drove the point home only last week in the wake of the ongoing scandal over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica.

"It will help Europe to be able to enable the transfers of data outside Europe because what we see now is that the situation in the world there is more than 100 states which have specific laws on private data," she said.

Next week she is heading to Japan and then to South Korea to discuss the latest rules, given both nations are seen as advanced when it comes to privacy and data protection. MEPs in the civil liberties committee had also earlier this year gone to Japan to discuss the regulation and the country's own national laws.

"If some big market in the world is saying there needs to be seatbelts in cars, everyone else will adopt to that," German Green Jan Phillip Albrecht, who steered the file through the European parliament, told reporters earlier this month.

Jourova's Asia trip is part of a larger bid to spread GDPR throughout the world in the hopes of spurring greater trade in the digital market. One EU official noted countries in Latin America are next in line, given trade negotiations with the region.

Latin American doubts

But Mexico's former federal data protection and information commissioner, Maria Elena Perez-Jaen Zermeno, told EUobserver that such demands will be difficult for some countries to meet.

"There are countries that do not even have a data protection or privacy law," she told EUobserver, in an emailed statement.

While she too describes the regulation as a 'gold standard', she highlighted wider issues concerning Latin America's economy and human rights that will render the prospect of passing tough data rules unlikely anytime soon.

She also warned about risks in implementation given such high standards may "make it impossible for various companies and organisations to comply."

Argentina and Uruguay, as well as Mexico, she noted, were still pressing ahead to get their laws in line to meet the demands of the regulation.

"Without a doubt, Mexican legislation has multiple overlaps with the framework of the European regulation," she said.

She noted Mexico had also ratified the Council of Europe's convention 108 on data processing, and that regional countries were working together as part the Ibero-American Data Protection Network.

The European Commission is also looking at Chile and has cited positive signals from India.

Andrea Jelinek, the head of the new European data protection board tasked to enforce GDPR, also told reporters that the regulation has peeked the interests on a global scale.

She signalled out Singapore and noted a recent international data conference in Hong Kong where Chinese professors were discussing standards.

"I think it was a huge progress that they are trying to open their thoughts towards Europe too and even in the United States there are interest regarding GDPR," said Jelinek.

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