The European Commission has set out a strategy to modernise its approach to personal data protection in a communication issued on 4 November 2010 ('Communication'). The Commission plans to propose legislation in 2011 revising the legal framework for data protection, including the European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. Technological advancements such as social media and cloud computing have highlighted the need to strengthen individuals' rights. The strategy therefore stresses the need for greater clarity on the part of data controllers about what is done with personal data and how individuals can exercise effective control over their own data.
Harmonisation and Certainty: Top of Everyone's Wish List
The Commission seeks a more unified, consistent approach to data protection regulation across Member States, recognising that the different approaches currently adopted at national level present significant challenges to multi-national companies operating within and across Europe. For example, the Commission is looking to reduce the cost and administrative burden resulting from compliance with multiple national regimes by potentially introducing EU-wide registration forms for notification purposes (data protection regulatory filings). This is complemented by a recognition that EU regulatory measures for international data transfers are "not entirely satisfactory and need to be reviewed and streamlined so as to make transfers simpler and less burdensome." In future, therefore, multi-national companies acting as data controllers may benefit from a streamlined notification process, freeing up resources from complying with multiple regimes at once in respect of both data notification and international data transfers.
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