The European Commission has set out new proposals detailing how it intends to modernise the EU's data protection framework.
The strategy is based around a key set of goals, including limiting the collection and use of personal data, and providing greater transparency on how, why, by whom, and for how long data is collected and used.
Other goals include creating a level playing field for data protection throughout Europe, and reviewing current data retention rules for law enforcement.
The Commission said it also aims to strengthen and harmonise the role and powers of data protection authorities, such as the UK's Information Commissioner's Office, and improve procedures for international data transfers.
Viviane Reding, EU commissioner for justice, fundamental rights and citizenship, explained that the policy review will be used by the Commission to put forward legislation next year aimed at strengthening and updating the 1995 Data Protection Directive.
"The protection of personal data is a fundamental right," she said. "To guarantee this right, we need clear and consistent data protection rules, and to bring our laws up to date with the challenges raised by new technologies and globalisation."
The proposals were welcomed by Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology.
"Today's communication is an opportunity to start building a unified data protection system which will bring more flexibility and legal certainty to small and medium size technology companies operating across the EU," he said.
"The lack of harmonisation of data protection rules creates enormous challenges for entrepreneurs who are trying to use emerging technologies to expand into new markets.
"The current patchwork of laws hinders our potential to develop services for the entire European Union."
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