EEP Group

European Data Protection Law Finalised – MEP Kelly

Published: Wed, 16 December 2015

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Seán Kelly MEP has welcomed the final text for a new EU-wide law on data protection, as finalised today (Wednesday). The Ireland South MEP has been a key negotiator for the EPP Group on the highly-anticipated European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

As a member of the European Parliament’s Industry and Research Committee, MEP Kelly advocated that the Regulation be implemented equally across all 28 Member States to ensure that citizens have the right to manage their own data, whilst ensuring consumer confidence in the digital economy.

“Last night, six months of political and technical negotiations between the Parliament, the EU Council (governments) and the Commission concluded. The final text will now be adopted by the Council and the European Parliament early 2016,” Mr Kelly said in Strasbourg.

“We have reached a balanced compromise which will cover all 28 Member States and 28 sets of different data protection laws will be replaced by this one. Seeing that our current EU legislation is from the 1990s, when we could hardly understand the complexities of the internet and all issues we face today, the regulation comes at the crucial time and provides a strong legal framework.”

The transposition of the Regulation in Member States countries will take two years.

One key aspect is the introduction of the One-Stop Shop, where one single supervisory body will deal with complaints.   Also, companies which process data as a core activity on a large scale (or sensitive data, large or small scale) will be required to appoint a Data Protection Officer. Firms in breach of EU data protection rules could be fined as much as four percent of their annual turnover.

Parental consent for social media

“We all acknowledge with a legislation this sensitive, not all parties will agree on all aspects involved. For example, the final compromise obliges anyone under 16 years of age to obtain parental consent before using online services like Facebook, or below 13 years if a Member State decides to further lower the age limit. In other words, Member States will decide the age of parental consent needed in their own country.

“This does not mean that those aged under 16 years, or for those aged below 13 years depending on the Member State, are banned from or cannot use social media or information services online, but simply that they will need parental consent.

“In Ireland, we have heard many stories of teens suffering cyber bullying online. The expert advice for parents of young people is to discuss online behaviour with your children and to know what sites they are using. In that light, a parental consent requirement seems a reasonable step for those minors who wish to use online services. Regarding practicality, it is up to the service provider to implement technical features to ensure that the user respects age limit requirements to allow the parents to effectively grant the consent or not.”

“After years of work on this legislation, the final outcome is very welcome. It will allow for companies to work under one law, which will make it cheaper and easier for them to do business in Europe. Certain rules encouraging innovation were also introduced and all these measures will further boost European competitiveness whilst at the same time protecting individual personal data,” Mr Kelly added.

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