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In 2015, EU aims to sweep away old rules on data protection and copyright

Loek Essers | Dec. 22, 2014
The European Commission is gearing up to solve some longstanding problems with outdated copyright and data protection laws and move ahead on new rules for roaming charges and net neutrality.

The Council might also be looking to delay the elimination of roaming charges beyond the planned target date of Dec. 15, 2015. Discussion on the issue will continue in the Council next year.

New data protection rules
The Commission is also planning to conclude the ongoing negotiations on common EU data protection rules as soon as possible. The current Data Protection Directive dates back to 1995 and needs reform. Proposed changes seek to reinforce consumer confidence in online services while also updating rules to take new technologies into account and reduce administrative burdens, potentially saving businesses €2.3 billion (US$2.8 billion) a year.

The Commission proposed new data protection regulations in January 2012 and the Parliament approved the draft regulation with minor modifications in March.

The Council, though, is trying to change things by proposing less stringent rules for protecting personal data not considered to be highly sensitive. While this proposal was welcomed by an industry lobby group backed by Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and other big tech companies, they said the proposed data protection rules still impose unnecessary burdens on the industry. The proposed rules would still require companies with more than 250 employees to keep a register for regulators of all the data they control or process, even data that is not considered extremely sensitive.

The legislation can only move forward when national justice ministers have reached an agreement, and discussions will continue in 2015.

Long-term strategy
Next year, the Commission will set out a long-term digital strategy for the years ahead, looking to simplify consumer rules for online purchases, stimulate e-commerce and enhance cybersecurity.

To do that, the Commission will listen to interested parties. For example, outside speakers will be brought in to a conference in Brussels in February where the EU's priorities for online commerce, copyright and data protection will be discussed. The Commission will also send experts to all countries to explain its plans.

In addition, Ansip will also host another Twitter chat like he did in October. "Not only did I pick up a lot of ideas from all the tweets that came in, but also got a clear feeling of the themes and issues that really matter to you," he said, adding that he will also invite people to give their views in other ways online.


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