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European Commission's Digital Agenda for Europe: Privacy is Key and Review of Privacy Legislation Slated

26 May 2010

Special thanks to Lionel de Souza in the Hogan Lovells Paris Office for this entry.  Lionel specializes in issues relating to privacy and data protection, e-commerce, the liability of technical intermediaries, IT contracts, outsourcing, online compliance, the intellectual property aspects of information technology and the Internet and encryption. He has a masters degree in digital law and new technologies from the university of Paris and an LL.M from the University of Edinburgh.

 

The European Commission published its "Digital Agenda for Europe" on 19 May 2010. The document presents a number of future measures designed to "maximize the social and economic potential" of information and communication technologies ("ICT").   Unsurpirsingly, privacy is an important focus.

As a starting point, the Commission sets out seven areas which it regards as problematic and in need for revision to foster economic growth based on ICT.

These seven issues are (1) the existence of fragmented digital markets within the European Union;  (2)  the lack of interoperability on European markets;  (3)   the rise of cybercrime and the risk of low trust in networks;  (4)  the lack of investment in networks;  (5)   insufficient research and innovation efforts  (6)  the lack of digital literacy and skills; and the missed opportunities in addressing societal challenges (e.g. environmental concerns, etc.).

To make improvements in these areas, the Commission emphasizes that privacy and data protection will play an essential role.  Throughout the document, the Commission underlines the need to increase trust in the ICT and internet services and  that such trust necessarily includes confidence in the protection of privacy and personal data.

The  Commission set as one of its key actions to "review the European data protection regulatory framework with a view to enhancing individuals' confidence and strengthening their rights by the end of 2010". It has also set out its intention to promote and progressively impose on goods and services providers the concept and notion of "Privacy by Design", to include, in its review of the data protection framework, the possible "extension of the obligation to notify data security breaches" and to give guidance, by 2011, "for the implementation of a new telecoms framework with regards to the protection of individuals' privacy and personal data".

 

The document is ambitious and has the potential to have an important impact on operators and allow for the development of business using ICT in the few coming years.

 

The European Commission's Digital Agenda for Europe can be found here.

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