European Commission drops data protection challenge - UK Politics - UK - The Independent

European Commission drops data protection challenge


The European Commission has dropped legal moves against the UK over data protection laws after the Government agreed changes in the privacy of electronic communications.

A legal case was launched by Brussels nearly three years ago following complaints from UK internet users about the use by some service providers of "targeted behavioural advertising" - creating a consumer marketing profile on the basis of individuals' website searches and usage.

After the Commission referred the case to the European Court of Justice in September 2010, the government altered national legislation to ban the interception of users' electronic communications without their explicit consent.

A Commission statement said: "The Commission has closed an infringement case against the UK in recognition that UK national legislation has now been changed to properly implement EU rules on ePrivacy and data protection on the confidentiality of communications such as email or Internet browsing. The Commission believes UK law and institutions are now well-equipped to enforce the privacy rights of UK users."

The decision follows a Commission proposal yesterday for comprehensive reforms of the EU's 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe's "digital economy."

The Commission says the pace of technology change is outstripping existing legislation which, in any case, has been implemented differently in various member states.

The proposals calls for a single EU-wide law on data privacy, saving business an estimated £2bn a year.

EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding said: "The protection of personal data is a fundamental right for all Europeans, but citizens do not always feel in full control of their personal data. My proposals will help build trust in online services because people will be better informed about their rights and in more control of their information."

The Confederation of British Industry said in an increasingly digital age, consumer and employer confidence in European data protection rights was in the interests of businesses.

But Matthew Fell, CBI Director for Competitive Markets, went on: "However, at a time when we should be boosting business confidence and encouraging innovation in digital services, these proposals will interfere with the relationship between businesses and their customers, and only add to costs.

"We see no reason for such a radical overhaul, when existing data protection legislation remains fit for purpose."

DMA executive director Chris Combemale said: "UK businesses need to be worried about the potential impact of the Data Protection Regulation on their ability to market their goods and services to consumers. Severe restrictions on the way in which they can use personal data for marketing purposes will be hugely damaging to sales."

"We fully appreciate the need for data protection rules to be in place to build consumer trust in sharing their information with companies, but getting this balance wrong will have terrible financial consequences to UK plc."

But the head of European consumers' group BEUC, Monique Goyens, welcomed the plan: "In recent years personal data has been traded as a currency behind consumers' backs. Particularly online, users have found themselves having dramatically less control of their most personal data.

"Now the Commission has drawn a clear line in the sand.

"Today the EU is taking a large step towards giving data rights back to its rightful owners - individuals themselves."

Information management services specialist Iron Mountain backed the Commission plan as a key part of EU privacy and human rights law.

Christian Toon, head of information security for Iron Mountain Europe, commented: "Many businesses of all sizes are falling short of what is required to manage information responsibly.

"Regardless of turnover, sector or country of operation, making sure that employee and customer information is protected should be common practice, not a reaction to new legislation."

John Walker, national chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "The FSB is pleased that data protection is being updated but it is imperative to ensure that it is updated in such a way that doesn't increase the burden on small businesses.

"UK businesses already struggle with the amount of red tape they have to deal with and so it is important that compliance time and costs are not increased for small firms."

He welcomed the fact that a proposed required on firms to have a "data protection officer" would not include small and medium-sized firms.

"However, once this regulation is agreed, the guidance that is made available to small firms must be clear and concise so that it is accessible and these businesses know what their requirements are," he said.


John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Senior C++ Developer

£400 - £450 Per Annum possibly more for the right candidate: Clearwater People...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week