EU States Pressure for Quicker Data Protection Legislation

Delegations from 16 EU member states have called upon the EU to act swiftly on the protection of personal data.  The message, which involved delegations from the UK, Germany and France, was conveyed in a joint declaration that was adopted by the overwhelming majority, calling upon European legislators to adopt the reform to personal data protection by 2015. 

The current legislative package, which contains one directive and one regulation, was proposed in January 2012 and adopted in the European Parliament in March 2014.  Its measures are aimed at protecting European citizens’ data and restricting its use by businesses and intelligence services.

The impetus for more expansive and thorough legislation grew rapidly in the light of scandals surrounding the US cyber espionage programme, Prism, which revealed large internet companies were releasing information about their European customers.

The representative of Luxembourg, Viviane Loschetter, said: “It is essential that the adoption happens before 2015: the EU must impose its data protection standards on third countries, otherwise they will do it first.  I am thinking particularly of the United States.”

In response to the above, the legislative package is being heavily debated in order to prevent issues arising from so-called ‘legal dumping’, whereby a company will establish themselves in a country that has favourable data protection laws.

Marie-Christine Marghem, a Belgian MP, emphasised the issue of nation-specific legislation.

“If a Belgian complains of their personal data being abused in another EU country, they should be sure that this country shares the same values as their own.”

It is hoped that speedier legislation will successfully pre-empt similar reforms being introduced in other parts of the world, which could seek to impose alternative standards on the EU.

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Nigel is the Managing Partner and Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution in the London office of Mackrell Turner Garrett.