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European Parliament backs data protection rules fit for the digital age


14 Apr 2016


Justice & Home Affairs

The European Parliament today backed a package of measures designed to bring Europe's data protection laws into the 21st Century. It involves two elements - one covering the processing of personal data by industry and government and a second covering data used by police and criminal justice authorities.

S&D vice-president Marju Lauristin MEP, who was responsible for the package in the Parliament, said:

"These new laws ensure strong protections for all EU citizens in how their data can be used by police and criminal authorities. This is essential as if the data of suspects, witnesses or victims is not handled correctly it can compromise their safety as well as their right to privacy or a fair trial. For the first time we now have clear strict laws on how law enforcement agencies can access and use personal data that apply equally to all EU citizens. All police forces in Europe must now fully respect the fundamental right of protection of personal data."

"The most important lesson that has come out of the tragic events in Paris and Brussels is not that we do not have enough information on terror suspects but that this information is not being used or shared effectively by national law enforcement agencies. The package we have passed today can play an important role in rectifying this. For the first time, the EU has harmonised rules on how police and criminal authorities can process and transfer data. This harmonisation will facilitate the exchange of information between countries and help ensure that national law enforcement agencies have the information they need on suspects involved in terrorism or cross-border crime."

Birgit Sippel, S&D spokesperson for civil liberties, justice and home affairs, added:

"Back in 1995 when we last updated our data protection laws, only a small fraction of Europeans had access to the internet, Facebook and Google didn't exist and the idea of online banking or voting still seemed years away. Now the internet touches on almost all aspects of our lives and ever increasing amounts of our personal data is online. How this data is used and processed is of fundamental importance to all of us.
That is why this package is so important - it finally brings our data protection laws into the 21st Century and gives citizens back control of how their data is used. It also means that for the first time we have harmonised data protection rules across all 28 member states of the European Union.

"The contents of the new data protection regulation show that we are serious about protecting European citizens' rights in the digital age. Companies or public authorities who process large amounts of data will have to appoint a data protection officer to ensure that they are fulfilling their legal obligations. Even more importantly it contains strong penalties for companies who violate the new law, with administrative fines of up to 4% of their overall global turnover."


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