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Stronger data protection rules at EU level: EU-Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and German Consumer Protection Minister Ilse Aigner join forces
Yesterday EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission, and the German Federal Minister for Consumer Protection, Ilse Aigner, met in Brussels to discuss the way forward for strengthening the EU's data protection rules which currently date back to 1995. The meeting yesterday came at an important time for consumers and businesses as regards data protection.
The European Commission will come forward with proposals to reform the 1995 Data Protection Directive by the end of January 2012. This major modernisation of the rules will have profound effects on how data privacy issues are treated in the European Union and beyond. Following their meeting, Commissioner Reding and Minister Aigner reaffirmed their intention to work hand-in-hand to achieve a robust data protection framework for Europe's internal market that can successfully address the challenges of today's digital world.
EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and Germany's Federal Minister for Consumer Protection Ilse Aigner issued the following statement after their meeting in Brussels today:
"Data protection is highly relevant for consumers and businesses regardless of borders. It therefore needs to be addressed at the European level, through high, common European standards with global appeal. The Lisbon Treaty provides Europe with a unique opportunity to modernise and strengthen data protection rules now. We both believe that as a result of this reform process, consumers in Europe should see their data strongly protected, regardless of the EU country they live in and regardless of the country in which companies, which process their personal data, are established.
We both believe that companies who direct their services to European consumers should be subject to EU data protection laws. Otherwise, they should not be able to do business on our internal market. This also applies to social networks with users in the EU. We have to make sure that they comply with EU law and that EU law is enforced, even if it is based in a third country and even if its data are stored in a 'cloud'.
In modernising the EU's data protection rules, we believe that consumers must be more empowered than they are today. Users should be in control of their data. This is why in our view, EU law should require that consumers give their explicit consent before their data are used. And consumers generally should have the right to delete their data at any time, especially the data they post on the Internet themselves.
We will work closely together to make sure that the modernisation of the EU’s data protection rules addresses these issues and that the EU’s data privacy principles are turned into a reality for consumers and businesses everywhere in Europe."
A recent Eurobarometer showed that 70% of Europeans are concerned about how companies use this data and feel that they only have partial, if any, control of their own data. 74% want to give their specific consent before their data is collected and processed on the Internet. The report also revealed that 75% of people want to be able to delete personal information online whenever they want to – the so-called right to be forgotten. There is also strong support for EU action: 90% want to have the same data protection rights across Europe (see IP/11/742).
In November 2010, the Commission outlined the main themes of the forthcoming reform of EU data protection rules – which will also encompass data protection in the field of police and judicial cooperation – in a Communication (see IP/10/1462).