Data protection

The current EU regulation governing data protection and privacy was created in 1995 (Data Protection Directive 1995/46/EC), and since then the rapid evolution of technology and the expansion of the digital world have introduced many new ways in which data can be created, exchanged and manipulated. The issue of privacy and data protection in the digital world is regarded with increasing interest by decision-makers and stakeholders, and is followed also by the cultural industries due to its possible interaction with the protection of intellectual property rights. The intersection of legislative provisions on data protection and copyright enforcement has in fact created tensions in a number of cases in the past years.
The judgment of the European Court of Justice “Promusicae vs Telefonica” of 5 February 2008 stated that Member States, when implementing the various directives on IPR, e-commerce and data protection, must strike a fair balance between the fundamental rights they protect – including the right to property in civil proceedings – as well as respecting the principle of proportionality.
With a view to modernising the data protection legislative framework, the Commission organised in May 2009 a wide stakeholders’ conference on data protection and launched a public consultation about the future legal framework for the fundamental right to protection of personal data in the EU. On 4 November 2010, the Commission adopted a strategic Communication on a comprehensive strategy on data protection in the European Union, highlighting its main ideas and key objectives on how to revise the current rules on data protection, and opened a new public consultation.
The European Parliament in turn started in March 2011 an own initiative report on data protection in the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs; rapporteur is MEP Axel Voss (EPP, Germany).
In January 2012, the Commission issued a proposal for a Comprehensive reform of the EU 1995 Data Protection rules consisting in a Policy Communication and two legislative proposals (a regulation and a Directive). The objective is to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy as well as to enhance harmonization The proposal will reinforce individuals’ rights, ensure a high level of data protection in all areas (including police and criminal justice cooperation), ensure proper enforcement of the rules, facilitate international transfers of personal data and set global data protection standards. Key changes will affect publishers who do handle private data in the course of their activities. The proposal is now at the EP for discussion.

  • FEP has been following closely the debates around the tension between the rights to information enshrined in the enforcement directive and privacy concerns under the data protection and data retention directives.
  • FEP has presented its position in several occasions to Commission officials and MEPs i.e. the right to privacy should be balanced with the freedom of expression and the right to protection of property, which includes the protection of the equally important intellectual property rights (as held by the European Court of Justice in Telefonica v Promusicae).
  • FEP have been following the new proposal on a Data Protection package and attends regularly debates at the EP.
  • FEP attended several conferences on Data Protection and Privacy issues.