EU proposes radical data protection refresh


The European Commission has proposed widespread changes to data protection rules governing Europe, including the addition of significant fines for breaching the laws.

The EC wants to replace the current directive, issued in 1995 when the internet had little traction across Europe, with legislation that applies to all member states.

As part of its changes, companies who breach the rules could be told to pay out as much as 1 million (831,000).

I would have thought all the data protection regulators are going to be made up it's like Christmas for them.

The EC has proposed both a regulation, setting out "a general EU framework for data protection" and a directive which sets out rules on the protection "of personal data processed for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences and related judicial activities."

Despite concerns, the EC believes that stricter rules will hinder economic growth across Europe, businesses will actually be saved around 2.3 billion a year thanks to the streamlined processes being proposed.

In particular, the regulation will get rid of separate laws governing different nations, thereby easing administrative burdens, the EC said.

"With this reform the European Union will create a real single digital market, accessible both for companies and consumers. It will make the European Union an international standard setter in terms of modern data protection rules," said EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding, the EC's vice president.

"[Businesses are] confronted with a real load of notification requirements a patchwork of laws, a load of reporting requirements this leads to legal uncertainty, to legal fragmentation.

"Reform will eliminate the unnecessary administrative burden as well as the many costs linked to different reporting requirements existing throughout the EU. It will do so with one main text. "

According to Reding, 72 per cent of EU citizens are concerned businesses will misuse their data.

The legislation will take effect two years after it is officially adopted.

24-hour rule

One of the more controversial aspects of the regulation is its request that companies inform both affected parties and data protection authorities when a breach occurs within 24 hours.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.