Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Putting an end to silos enforcement of consumer (data protection) rights?

Last month, BEUC and the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) held a joint conference on the enforcement of fundamental rights- notably, the right to privacy- in the age of big data. 

BEUC urges all competent authorities to coordinate their actions and strategies in this field, putting an end to "silos" enforcement, which is unable to guarantee equal respect of consumer rights across policy areas. 

BEUC particularly welcomed the EDPS's recently published opinion on "coherent enforcement of fundamental rights in the age of big data", which contains a set of recommendations, Here an excerpt from the study summary:

"The EU institutions and bodies, and national authorities when implementing EU law, are required to uphold the rights and freedoms set out in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU. Several of these provisions, including the rights to privacy and to the protection of personal data, freedom of expression and non-discrimination, are threatened by normative behaviour and standards that now prevail in cyberspace. The EU already has sufficient tools available for addressing market distortions that act against the interests of the individual and society in general. A number of practices in digital markets may infringe two or more applicable legal frameworks, each of which is underpinned by the notion of ‘fairness’. Like several studies in recent months, we are calling for more dialogue, lesson-learning and even collaboration between regulators of conduct in the digital environment. We also stress the need for the EU to create conditions online, as well as offline, in which the rights and freedoms of the Charter may thrive.

This Opinion therefore recommends establishing a Digital Clearing House for enforcement in the EU digital sector, a voluntary network of regulatory bodies to share information, voluntarily and within the bounds of their respective competences, about possible abuses in the digital ecosystem and the most effective way of tackling them. This should be supplemented by guidance on how regulators could coherently apply rules protecting the individual. We also recommend that the EU institutions with external experts explore the creation of a common area, a space on the web where, in line with the Charter, individuals are able to interact without being tracked. Finally, we recommend updating the rules on how authorities apply merger controls better to protect online privacy, personal information and freedom of expression."
According to the opinion, the Digital Single Market strategy represents a good opportunity for taking a more coherent approach. We will see whether the different actors involved will be willing to seize the chance!

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