EC Commissioner Oettinger makes noteworthy comments during a conference in Munich regarding the pending EU Data Protection Reform.
In 2012, the European Commission (EC) proposed a major reform to the European Union’s (EU’s) legal framework regarding the protection of personal data. This reform would expand the reach of the EU’s 1995 Data Protection Directive (the Directive) and harmonize the Member States’ often inconsistent implementation of the Directive. Although the stated goal of the reforms is to strengthen individual rights and address the challenges of globalization and new technologies to lessen the administrative burdens of compliance for companies, if adopted, these reforms will also change the landscape for U.S. companies that do business in Europe. Among the most significant, the proposed reforms would
During a recent conference in Munich, EC Commissioner Günther Oettinger discussed his vision of the Directive and the potential impact of the proposed reforms. He said that, by the end of 2015, the EC intends to submit a proposal for a common European Data Protection Directive that addresses the need for secure “European cloud” data storage. By May 2015, the EC is also expected to publish its strategy for the digital sector. Mr. Oettinger pointed out that, currently, the Member States, with their 510 million people, have one market for such things as food, Bordeaux, and cars but face a fragmented market for digital products and services. Twenty-eight distinct regulations, data protection rules, and regulators exist in the name of implementing the Directive. Mr. Oettinger acknowledged that fragmented implementation does not create a favorable environment for start-ups and investors in the IT sector.
Mr. Oettinger’s remarks can be evaluated in light of the ongoing debate as follows:
In sum, it appears that Mr. Oettinger is realistic about the challenges that the EU faces in implementing data protection reform and is open to industry suggestions for the privacy sector, particularly in areas where Europe is strong, such as the car industry, health, and digital infrastructure.
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