The European Data Protection Supervisor has urged the European Commission (EC) to carry out wide-ranging reform of data protection laws to ensure that they remain relevant.
Peter Hustinx argued that a new system of data protection is needed to cope with growing volumes of personal information, and to ensure that individuals are not affected by outdated legislation.
"Data protection is not an abstract thing. It relates to everybody's life. Strong data protection also supports and underpins other issues, such as the economy, security, the accountability of governments and trust in the information society," he said.
"There is no room for mistakes here. The challenges are enormous. That is why the proposed solutions must be equally ambitious and actually enhance the effectiveness of the instruments of data protection."
Hustinx called for further harmonisation of national data protection legislation, the inclusion of privacy by design principles, and the introduction of mandatory data breach notifications.
He also suggested that a technologically neutral approach is necessary, and that the relevant police and justice departments must work more closely to support these aims.
Hustinx was responding to an EC strategy document (PDF) looking at the current state of data protection laws in the region, and asking for feedback and input from various stakeholders.
The document puts forward a number of ideas, including a cross-border policy on data protection and the inclusion of the "right to be forgotten" so that individuals can demand the deletion of data once it has been used.
The issue of a commonly implemented policy on data protection is a pertinent topic in the UK as the country faces court action from the EC over its failure to implement wider EU laws on the confidentiality of electronic communications.
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