A birthday present for EU data protection?

Claire Walker

Datonomy readers could be forgiven for having missed the fact that yesterday was the EU’s 4th annual “Data Protection Day” – especially since Datonomy itself is a day late!

To mark the occasion, the EU’s Commissioner for Media and Information Society Viviane Reding promised the world of data protection a very special birthday treat – namely, much-awaited reform of 1995 EU Data Protection Directive. In a press release the Commissioner emphasised the need for data protection rules to keep up with the challenges of new technology in the decade ahead. The privacy challenges posed by social networking and online behavioural advertising got a specific mention. The press release recaps on the Commission’s privacy related achievements during 2009, but is disappointingly light on the detail of the promised reforms to come.

During the second half of last year, as reported on Datonomy, the Commission conducted an online consultation seeking views on reform of the Directive. Certain aspects of telecoms and internet related privacy have already been strengthened in the recently-adopted Telecoms Package. So, it will be interesting to see what concrete proposals the Commission has for refreshing the legislation. One specific measure already alluded to in the Telecoms Package is a widening of the breach notification obligations , as a matter of priority, to all organisations regardless of sector. Let’s hope this birthday present lives up to its promise!

Happy (belated) Data Protection Day!

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