Online Privacy & Document Freedom Day

European Commission has initiated reforms to the Data protection directive and regulations for the public and private sector. Current patchwork of national rules with current European legal framework, were drawn up in the early 90s and came into force in 1995, at the time only 1% of European population were using the internet. These outdated laws put uncertainty on creating a strong single digital market, and require an update. Update to stronger data protection should increase consumer trust in their privacy online being safer, which will lead to further growth in digital economy of Europe.

European Commission expects “clear and precise identification of all the relevant elements underpinning the right to be forgotten online”, to enhance data security, increase accountability of data handling, and provide real “teeth” to the sanctions for infringements of your online privacy. 

Regulations will be binding not only for the private sector, but the directive will also apply to the public sector, as cross-border data transactions between authorities, as well as for domestic use such as police, judiciary, and medical purposes.

Approach to the data protection is planned to be comprehensive, horizontal with an aim to harmonize data protection law. This should reduce red-tape and beurocracy, the deliberation process has only just began and commission is willing to listen to all stakeholders involved via open meetings, workshops. New legal framework should not be seen as an obstacle to the flow of data, but compliment it by increasing consumer trust and simplifying it.

The main change will be ensuring that “right to be forgotten” responsibility will rest on the shoulders of private companies this time.  

While 29th of March, is also known as a Document Freedom Day, which is celebrated world-wide, for this occasion Green Party-EFA held an annual event at the European Parliament, supported by Free Software Foundation Europe.

The day was dedicated to highlighting importance of open standards, to ensure freedom of access between different data formats, in order to avoid monopolies from exploiting the market and consumers. The event was organised predominantly from an e-book angle, with makers of tablet reader ‘Bookeen’ presenting the history of their company’s digital tablet readers.

There were a number of other notable speakers and presentations, including Dr. Charles Haley from software maker ‘Calibre’, who discussed data formats and troubles with DRM-Digital Rights Management. Open standards are quite a technical and complex topic, but the public is increasingly becoming aware of its real meaning and impact. As representative from Ms Neelie Kroes cabinet, Dr. Carl-Christian Buhr, described the importance of public procurements and standardisation, as public institutions purchase tablet readers, its important that they are not locked to one single operating system.

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