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National data processing registrations to be abolished?

Phil Lee
01/04/2011
At an EPP Group Public Hearing in Brussels yesterday, Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, addressed European Parliamentarians on the costs of data At an EPP Group Public Hearing in Brussels yesterday, Viviane Reding, European Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship, addressed European Parliamentarians on the costs of data protection compliance.  In doing so, she outlined her proposals to reduce business compliance cost under Europe's reformed data protection regime.  She proposed:

1.  Improved harmonisation of data protection rules across the EU;

2.  Promotion of innovation and new services;

3.  Simplified rules on applicability of law;

4.  Streamlined and improved international data transfer rules; and

5.  A reduction in 'red tape', to remove unnecessary and ineffective administrative burdens on businesses.

Whilst many of these proposals are not new, having previously been raised in the European Commission's communication on data protection reform to the European Parliament in November 2009, Ms. Reding's comments on cutting red tape did reveal something very interesting - namely that she proposes to abolish national data processing registration requirements for data controllers (other than for sensitive data). 

She said:  "I will drastically simplify the current system of notifications to data protection authorities. The general obligation to notify data processing activities will be abolished. On the contrary, concerning the more delicate personal data, there will be still rules in place."

The current data processing registration regime is perhaps one of the least harmonised aspects of European data protection regulation, imposing a significant administrative and cost overhead to businesses with little or no discernible benefit to data subjects.  At present, many businesses find themselves needing to register across multiple Member States, each with their own, individual rules and processes as to what much be notified, the need for prior authorisation, and timescales and costs for registration.  If, as Ms. Reding intends, this general registration requirement is abolished under the new data protection regime, it will most certainly be a development resoundly welcomed by business.

The full text of Ms. Reding's speech is available online at: http://europa.eu/rapid/pressReleasesAction.do?reference=SPEECH/11/228&format=HTML&aged=0&language=EN&guiLanguage=en

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