Has Europe played its dirtiest hand ever to undermine data protection reform?

ikYfyDhQHruMBy Simon Davies

The European Data Protection Supervisor, Peter Hustinx, has taken the unprecedented step of writing to leaders of the European Commission and European Parliament to express dismay over their failure to appoint his successor.

Peter Hustinx: Uncertainty in a "critical period" for European rights

Peter Hustinx: Uncertainty in a “critical period” for European rights

Both Hustinx and his Assistant Supervisor are responsible for implementation of data protection for EU institutions. Their five-year term ends on January 16th and yet no efforts have been made to commence the process to find replacements.

This means that at a crucial period for data protection reform, Europe’s DP regime will have no-one at the helm. Indeed for an indefinite period the EU will have no official in place to manage data protection. In classic understatement, Hustinx calls this a “period of uncertainty”.

“This uncertainty and the possibly long delays that may be involved, as well as their different consequences, are likely to harm the effectiveness and the authority of the EDPS over the coming months. The EU is presently in a critical period for the fundamental rights of privacy and data protection, and a strong mandate is required to provide the authority to ensure that these fundamental rights are fully taken into account at EU level. In this respect, I would recall that the operation of a fully effective independent control authority is an essential feature of that right, as set out in Article 8 of the Charter and Article 16 of the Treaty.”

The absence of an independent official capable of providing advice to key EU institutions on the evolution of the reforms does not bode well for a healthy outcome for data protection. The EU Council has already gutted the protective elements of the proposed reforms while a potentially fatal legal dispute has arisen over the lawfulness of the proposals.