The European Commission introduced its proposal for a revision of the data protection regulations of the EU two years ago, yet despite agreement on a compromise text by the European Parliament in October 2013, completion of a finalised General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has now been delayed until after the May elections.
An agreement reached on 22 January between EU Justice Commissioner, Vivian Reding, and representatives of the Greek and incoming Italian Presidency, has set the new deadline for completion of the file for ’before the end of the year’. At the meeting of the Council’s Justice and Home Affairs Committee in December, Member States failed to agree a general approach to the dossier, delaying progress and leading to this latest postponement. Giving the final speech of his mandate earlier in the month Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor, urged the German government to take the lead in pushing the reforms forward.
Recent reports in the British media have been focusing on the GDPR’s potential implications for health data and a new scheme, currently under discussion in the UK, to create a mass database of citizens’ health information. The definitions of consent and pseudonymous/anonymous data that are currently part of the draft Regulation would render the planned UK database illegal, since it rests on an opt-out principle. Pamela Forde, data protection officer at the Royal College of Physicians, features in one article, noting the damaging impact of scrapping the database and the necessity of mass population health data for vital research.
The European Parliament is set to vote to start formal negotiations at the March or April plenary sessions. The agreement reached on Wednesday aims for acceptance of a mandate for negotiation in June and the beginning of inter-institutional negotiations in July.
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