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The state of privacy 2017: EDPS provides mid-mandate report

As we approach the mid-point of the current EDPS mandate and continue the countdown to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the EU must build on current momentum to reinforce its position as the leading force in the global dialogue on data protection and privacy in the digital age, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS) said today to the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE), as he presented his 2016 Annual Report.

Giovanni Buttarelli, EDPS, said: “In March 2015 we launched the EDPS Strategy 2015-2019. It outlines three main goals for the current mandate and the actions required to achieve them. Though the publication of the GDPR on 4 May 2016 represented a big step towards achieving these goals, our work is far from complete. As we move into the second half of the current EDPS mandate, I intend to ensure that the aims outlined in our Strategy remain at the heart of all our efforts. This is particularly important in our work with the EU institutions and bodies, which must set an example that others can follow.

The new EU data protection framework consists of much more than just the GDPR. New rules for the EU institutions and ePrivacy are yet to be finalised, and remain a key focal point for EDPS work. As well as providing advice to the legislator on these new rules, the EDPS has started working with the EU institutions and bodies to prepare them for the changes to come. A particular focus of his efforts in 2016 was on promoting accountability, a central pillar of the GDPR which it is safe to assume will also be integrated into the new rules for EU institutions and bodies.

Wojciech Wiewiórowski, Assistant EDPS, said: Accountability means ensuring that organisations themselves take responsibility for demonstrating compliance with data protection rules. To help the EU institutions adapt to the new requirements, in 2016 we launched the Accountability Initiative, designed to equip EU institutions, beginning with the EDPS itself, to lead by example in how they comply and demonstrate compliance with data protection rules.”                            

In 2016, the EDPS also made a considerable effort to help move the global debate on data protection and privacy forward and mainstream data protection into international policies. He advised the EU legislator on the Umbrella agreement and the Privacy Shield, concerning the transfer of data from the EU to the United States, and engaged with data protection and privacy commissioners from every continent. He also continued to pursue new initiatives, such as the Ethics Advisory Group, through which he intends to stimulate global debate on the ethical dimension of data protection in the digital era.

As set out in his Strategy, the EDPS aims to make data protection as simple and effective as possible for all involved. This requires ensuring that EU policy both reflects the realities of data protection in the digital era and encourages compliance through accountability. The EDPS intends to ensure that this objective remains a central part of all his efforts throughout the remainder of his mandate, as he continues to work towards achieving his vision of an EU that leads by example in the global dialogue on data protection and privacy in the digital age.

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