European Commission high-level discussions on data protection

By EDRi · October 20, 2010

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Deutsch: [Europäische Kommission: Datenschutz-Diskussion auf höchster Ebene |]

Commissioner Reding recently invited a wide variety of representatives from
industry, civil society, academia and law enforcement bodies to a high-level
meeting in the European Commission headquarters in Brussels. The dossier is
clearly a major priority for Ms Reding, who was very keen to discuss the
minutiae of the legislation with experts.

One of the most interesting elements of the discussions was the apparently
unanimous agreement across all stakeholders that the current data protection
regime is fragmented, ineffective and out of date. This environment
unfortunately leads to civil society groups and industry representatives
argue about jurisdiction rules when a key reason that jurisdiction is a
major issue is not jurisdiction itself, it is incoherence in implementation
of the Directive that makes both citizens and business afraid of having to
interact with foreign authorities with varying and sometimes unpredictable
interpretations of the Directive.

Industry speakers were also keen to reduce bureaucracy – one representative
said that the move of a data centre from Germany to the Switzerland costs
half a million euro in data protection-related legal fees. A number of
industry speakers were in favour of more detailed ex post checks and a
reduction in ex ante obligations. The Commission is clearly open to finding
ways of reducing the bureaucracy involved in data protection, although no
public statement has been made yet on what that could mean in practice.

The next stage in this process will be the publication next week of a
Communication by the European Commission establishing the broad direction
that the Commission intends to take with regard to updating existing
elements of the Directive and broadening the scope to a take account of the
Lisbon Treaty, which brings the former “third pillar” (police and judicial
cooperation) within the scope of the Treaty. One interesting question is
whether the Commission will seriously consider proposing a Regulation
(directly applicable on all Member States) as a way of overcoming the
current fragmentation in the implementation of the Directive.

European Commission Data Protection

EDRi response to the first round of consultations (23.12.2009)

(Contribution by Joe McNamee – EDRi)