Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner
Europe is one of the few places in the world that already has strong data protection rules but in this brave new “digital era”, as you call it, we need rules fit for the 21st century. In a world where data is the new currency, Europe needs rules that will empower the very people whose data fuels the digital economy. That is why, nearly 2 years ago, the Commission put a proposal for a reform of the EU’s data protection rules on the table.
Trust in the way private enterprise processes data is also low. 92% of Europeans are concerned about mobile apps collecting their data without their consent. 89% of people say they want to know when the data on their smartphone is being shared with a third party. Citizens know that companies use their personal data in ways that they cannot control or influence.
Some say that this is a question of individuals knowledge being overtaken by technological change. But what does a citizen do when he or she understands, disagrees but cannot act? That’s when trust evaporates. I believe that this is a question of individuals rights being overridden by technological change.
That’s why it’s important to put individuals back in control by updating their rights. The right to be forgotten, the right to data portability and the right to be informed of personal data breaches are important elements of our reform. They will help close the growing rift between citizens and the companies with which they share their data. Empowerment will lead to a return of trust and therefore – to use the proper business vocabulary – a “return on investment”. Let’s believe in giving people meaningful rights.
It’s time for political leaders to show determination and help restore trust in digital services by adopting the Data Protection Regulation. Europe’s citizens deserve nothing less.

Viviane Reding
Vicepresidente Commissione Europea