Ahead of Data Protection Day, Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, and Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, issued the following statement:
“Protecting our privacy is part of Europe’s DNA: this year’s Data Protection Day on 28 January marks the 40th anniversary of the Council of Europe’s ‘Convention 108′, the only international treaty on privacy. Today, European data protection rules have become the gold standard and a model followed in many parts of the globe.
The value of an efficient data protection regime has become even clearer during the coronavirus pandemic. New digital solutions such as tracing apps can only work if people can feel well protected and can trust that their data will not be misused. The GDPR is the stepping stone to Europe’s human-centric approach to digital technologies; it supports and empowers citizens.
Free and safe data flows are also a prerequisite for government and business operations to continue during the pandemic. Protecting privacy and facilitating data flows has to go hand in hand. Thanks to its innovative data protection regime the EU is well placed to promote safe and trusted data flows globally. To that end, the Commission will intensify its cooperation with like-minded partners at bilateral and multilateral level, building on the growing trend towards higher levels of privacy standards. With its ruling on the EU-US Privacy Shield in the Schrems II case in July 2020 the Court confirmed that when personal data travels abroad from Europe, it must remain safe. It is a key priority for us to work with our counterparts in the new U.S. administration to guarantee the protection of personal data transferred across the Atlantic in full compliance with the Court’s ruling. Furthermore, we are very close to finalising adequacy talks with South Korea and are engaged in adequacy dialogues with a number of other international partners. Beyond that, we actively contribute to the work of international organisations like the OECD in developing global standards and safeguards for government access to personal data, which is of increasing importance for data flows. We are also working with Europe’s Data Protection Authorities to ensure vigorous enforcement of our rules.
Strong data protection rules are part of the solution in tackling the pandemic. They will also benefit us as the transition towards data-based societies and economies is even further accelerated. Europeans can be sure: in the EU, your personal data belongs to you.”
In 2006, the Council of Europe launched a Data Protection Day to be celebrated each year on 28 January.
In January 2017, the Commission adopted a Communication on the international aspects of privacy, which set out the EU strategy in the field of international data flows and protection. The adoption of the mutual EU-Japan adequacy decision is an important result of this strategy. It has created the world’s largest area of free and safe data flows. The Commission’s negotiations on adequacy decisions with South Korea and the United Kingdom are at an advanced stage. Furthermore, the Commission is in the process of adopting modernised Standard Contractual Clauses that are the transfer mechanism most used by EU companies.
The General Data Protection Regulation applies in all Member States since 25 May 2018. In June 2020, the European Commission published an evaluation report on the GDPR, showing that it has met most of its objectives, in particular by offering citizens a strong set of enforceable rights, by providing businesses opportunities to make the most of the digital revolution and by creating a new European system of governance and enforcement.
Source: Data Protection Day (europa.eu)
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