Labour MEPs will vote on Thursday for new EU data protection laws that will ensure European citizens' privacy is safeguarded, after the proposals were given the green light today by the European Parliament civil liberties committee.
The data protection package consists of a regulation on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data, and a directive controlling the collection of personal data for law enforcement purposes.
Labour MEPs believe it represents a major achievement, giving citizens control over their own personal data, and achieves the right balance between protecting fundamental rights and enhancing police cooperation and the exchange of law enforcement data.
Claude Moraes MEP, chair of the civil liberties, justice and home affairs committee, said:
"These new rules represent a significant improvement on existing data protection legislation, which has not been updated since 1995. They will ensure the European Union has some of the highest standards of data protection in the world.
"The data protection regulation will ensure business, consumers and NGOs will have greater clarity thanks to the new rules which include the requirement that clear consent be provided for the processing of personal data. The legislation will also require parental consent to be given in order for a child to be able to open a social media account, and makes clear consumers now have a right to be forgotten.
"The regulation gives EU citizens new positive rights including the ability to know when your data has been hacked, the use of plain language in requests for personal data, the appointment of data protection officers in firms handling large amounts of data, and fines of up to four per cent of annual turnover for companies that do not respect the rules."
Mr Moraes added:
"New safeguards for all EU citizens come with the new data protection directive, which ensures protections are in place for the processing of data for law enforcement purposes, providing clear and consistent guidelines for authorities while ensuring fundamental rights and privacy are upheld.
"The adoption of the package by MEPs will also ensure a clearer legal framework is now in place in the EU for data sharing for security purposes, such as the Passenger Name Record regulation, which will provide uniform regulation of the processing and sharing of passenger flight data between European Union countries."
Glenis Willmott MEP, Labour's European Parliament spokesperson on health, said:
"I'm pleased that under the new data protection regulation, personal data can still be used for scientific and medical research. It is important to strike the right balance between ensuring patients' sensitive health data is protected, while facilitating the safe and secure use of patient data for health research.
"Personal data is a vital source for observational studies which can lead to medical breakthroughs on serious illnesses including cancer and cardiovascular disease and this new legislation will ensure that this life-saving research can continue with strong safeguards in place for protecting people's personal information."