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Euro Comm Adopts Privacy Directive (NewsClip)
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- Date: Fri, 11 Aug 1995 21:45:12 -0500
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European Commission Adopts Privacy Directive
Brussels, Aug. 11, -- The European Commission is now well on
its way towards affording a high level of protection to
personal data held on computer systems, following the formal
adoption of a Directive on the protection of personal data,
Newsbytes has learned.
"I am pleased that this important measure, which will ensure
a high level of protection for the privacy of individuals in
all Member States, has been adopted with a very wide measure
of agreement within the Council and European Parliament," said
EC Single Market Commissioner Mario Monti, announcing the
According to Monti, the Directive will also help to ensure the
free flow of information society services in the "Single
Market" by "fostering consumer confidence and minimizing
differences between member states' rules."
"Moreover, the text agreed includes special provisions for
journalists, which reconcile the right to privacy with freedom
of expression," he said, adding that the member states must
transpose the Directive within three years (i.e., write it
into their own legislation), "but I sincerely hope that they
will take the necessary measures without waiting for the
deadline to expire so as to encourage the investment required
for the information society to become a reality."
Monti claims that the Directive will establish a "clear and
stable" regulatory framework necessary to guarantee free
movement of personal data, while leaving individual EU
countries room for maneuver in the way the Directive is
According to the Directive, free movement of data is
particularly important for all services with a large customer
base and depending on processing personal data, such as
distance selling and financial services.
In practice, however, banks and insurance companies process
large quantities of personal data on such highly sensitive
issues as credit ratings and credit-worthiness. If each member
state had its own set of rules on data protection, for
example, on how data subjects could verify the information
held on them, cross-border provision of services, notably over
the information superhighways, would be virtually impossible
and this extremely valuable new market opportunity would be
lost, the EC claims.
According to the EC, the Directive aims to narrow divergences
between national data protection laws to the extent necessary
to remove obstacles to the free movement of personal data
within the EU. As a result, any person whose data is processed
in the EC will be afforded an equivalent level of protection
of his rights, in particular his right to privacy,
irrespective of the member state where the processing is
The EC claims that, until now, differences between national
data protection laws have resulted in obstacles to transfers
of personal data between EC member states, even when these
countries have ratified the 1981 Council of Europe Convention
on personal data protection. This has been a particular
problem, the EC notes, for multinational companies wishing to
transfer data concerning their employees between their
operations in different member states.
According to the Commission, such obstacles to data transfers
could seriously impede the future growth of information
The Directive establishes the principle of "fairness," so that
a collection of data should be as transparent as possible,
giving individuals the option of whether they provide the
information or not.
The Directive requires all data processing to have a proper
legal basis. The legal grounds defined in the Directive are:
consent, contract, legal obligation, vital interest of the
data subject, and the balance between the legitimate interests
of the people controlling the data and the people on whom data
is held (i.e., data subjects). This balance gives member
states room for maneuver in their implementation and
application of the Directive, the Commission claims.
Press & Reader Contact: European Commission, +32-299-1111