Brussels, 26 February 2013
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner see European data protection reform as ‘historic opportunity’
The EU Justice Commissioner and Vice President of the European Commission, Viviane Reding, and the German Federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, described the planned EU General Data Protection Regulation as a ‘historic opportunity’ to modernise existing data protection rules and bring them into the digital age. The Commission’s proposal to modernise EU data protection rules (IP/12/46 and IP/13/57) provides the basis for ensuring a high level of data protection across the EU, which all service providers operating in Europe would be required to comply with, said Aigner and Reding following a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. At their meeting, Reding and Aigner highlighted their common goal of strengthening consumers’ cross-border privacy rights.
Commissioner Reding and Federal Minister Aigner issued the following statement after their meeting:
‘In Europe we need reliable and consistent rules to safeguard privacy. A robust framework for data protection must measure up to the challenges of today’s digital world – strengthening consumers, the economy and the European internal market. We firmly believe that now is the time for us to ensure that data protection standards are set which benefit consumers and business alike. To ensure that these standards are effective worldwide, political decisions must be taken on the rules which all providers must comply with if they wish to operate in Europe. There must be no loopholes for social networking sites, app-providers or online traders. We have to ensure that EU law also applies to service providers based outside the EU or to data which is stored in cloud anywhere in the world. This will strengthen competition on our European internal market.
We are also committed to a consumer-friendly approach by default and the inclusion of data protection issues at the product design stage, in a bid to build trust amongst consumers regarding the protection of their personal data. If consumers wish to be freer with their data, they must be able to actively decide this for themselves by changing their preferences. Consumers must have the assurance that devices and applications are safe and that providers respect and protect their privacy. This includes communicating clearly and simply with users so that they can make informed choices.
Alongside the potential for data processing unconstrained by borders, it is also essential for the necessary limits to be defined. An important measure in this respect is the strengthening of consent, so that data can only be processed and distributed if users have explicitly given their consent. We share the conviction that consumers must regain control over their personal data. No business should be in possession of personal data or be able to set up user profiles without the user’s agreement.
Users’ ability to decide for themselves also extends to having and being able to exercise extensive rights regarding the deletion of data. Consumers should be able to decide for themselves, and at any time, if they would like their personal data to be deleted, particularly data they enter themselves over the Internet. Together, this is what we will campaign for during the negotiations on data protection.’
As early as November 2011, EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and the German Federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, called jointly for stronger data protection rules at EU level (MEMO/11/762). On 25 January 2012, the Commission proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. The Commission’s proposals update and modernise the principles enshrined in the 1995 Data Protection Directive, bringing them into the digital age without compromising the high level of data protection which has been in place in Europe since 1995. The Commission has tabled a proposal for a Regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data, and a proposal for a Directive setting 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 (IP/12/46).
On 10 January, the rapporteurs for the European Parliament presented their reports on the data protection reform (IP/13/4) and on 20 February, the European Parliament's Industry committee voted in support of the design of the data protection reform (MEMO/13/124). The Irish Presidency of the EU which will chair and steer the Council meetings for the first half of 2013 has made data protection a priority and is working hard to achieve a political agreement on the data protection reform by the end of the Irish Presidency (June 2013).
For more information
Press pack: data protection reform:
European Commission – data protection:
European Parliament – report on the Data Protection Regulation:
Homepage of Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner:
Follow the Vice-President on Twitter: @VivianeRedingEU
Press office of the German Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (Bundesministerium für Ernährung, Landwirtschaft und Verbraucherschutz)
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