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The European Data Protection Supervisor

The position of European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) was created in 2001. The responsibility of the EDPS is to make sure that all EU institutions and bodies respect people’s right to privacy when processing their personal data.

What does the EDPS do?

When EU institutions or bodies process personal data about an identifiable person, they must respect that person’s right to privacy. The EDPS makes sure they do so, and advises them on all aspects of personal data processing.

‘Processing’ covers activities such as collecting information, recording and storing it, retrieving it for consultation, sending it or making it available to other people, and also blocking, erasing or destroying data.

There are strict privacy rules governing these activities. For example, EU institutions and bodies are not allowed to process personal data that reveals your racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or philosophical beliefs or trade-union membership. Nor may they process data on your health or sexual orientation, unless the data is needed for health care purposes. Even then, the data must be processed by a health professional or other person who is sworn to professional secrecy.

The EDPS works with the Data Protection Officers in each EU institution or body to ensure that the date privacy rules are applied.

In 2009, Mr Peter Hustinx was reappointed as European Data Protection Supervisor and Mr Giovanni Buttarelli nominated as the Assistant Supervisor. Their mandate will run until January 2014.

How can the EDPS help you?

If you have reason to believe that your right to privacy has been infringed by an EU institution or body, you should firstly address the people responsible for the processing. If you are not satisfied with the outcome, you should contact the relevant data protection officer (the names can be found on the EDPS website). You can also complain to the European Data Protection Supervisor, who will investigate your complaint and let you know as soon as possible whether he agrees with it and, if, so, how the situation is being put right. For example, he can order the institution or body concerned to correct, block, erase or destroy any of your personal data that has been unlawfully processed.

If you disagree with his decision, you may take the matter to the Court of Justice.


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