The European Commission's Proposed Data Protection Regulation: A Copernican Revolution in European Data Protection Law
Bloomberg BNA Privacy and Security Law Report (2012) February 6 2012, pages 1-15
27 Pages Posted: 17 Oct 2012
Date Written: February 6, 2012
In the 18th century Immanuel Kant famously initiated a “Copernican revolution” in philosophy by shifting the understanding of reality away from external objects and towards the cognitive powers of the individual. The European Commission’s recent proposal for a General Data Protection Regulation attempts a similar revolution in European data protection law by seeking to shift its focus away from paper-based, bureaucratic requirements and towards compliance in practice, harmonization of the law, and individual empowerment. Indeed, the Proposed Regulation represents the most significant potential change to European data protection law since adoption of the EU Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC in 1998. The final success of the Proposed Regulation will perhaps depend on three key factors, namely the effectiveness of the “lead DPA” concept; the operation of the consistency mechanism; and the ability of the Commission to issue delegated and implementing acts of high quality in a way that is timely and transparent and gives stakeholders an opportunity to provide input. If these three factors are realized, then it may work as designed to bring about a more harmonized level of data protection throughout the EU, and the benefits could be great for data controllers, individuals, and the EU economy. But if they are weakened during the EU legislative process, or if member states and DPAs undermine them, then many of the other positive changes foreseen in the text may lose much of their effect. Only time will tell if the final result is a revolution that brings about lasting improvements.
Keywords: data protection, privacy, European Union, Data Protection Directive, Data Protection Regulation
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