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It's Data Protection day - are you up to speed on your data privacy rights?

European data protection reform could be introduced before the end of this year.

TODAY IS DATA Protection Day 2014, marking the signing of the 1981 Convention 108, an international treaty dealing with privacy and data protection.

Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner said data protection in the European Union is a “fundamental right” with Europe already having the highest level of data protection in the world, she said.

New reforms

EU data protection reform was proposed two years ago, with the Justice Commissioner stating that the rules will benefit citizens who want to be able to trust online services, and the small and medium sized businesses looking at a single market of more than 500 million consumers as an untapped opportunity.

“The European Parliament has led the way by voting overwhelmingly in favour of these rules. I wish to see full speed on data protection in 2014,” she said.

The European Parliament is expected to adopt the proposals in first reading in April 2014, with an agreement on the data protection reform possible before the end of this year.

Under the European Directive for Data protection, they hope technology firms will have a single standard across the common market. New laws could even offer a competitive advantage for Europe in the eyes of business customers for whom data protection is a priority.

This will reduce regulatory fragmentation and could lower the cost of compliance for firms. Yet even under these new laws, the Irish Regulator will still have responsibility for monitoring standards for the global companies based in this country.

In control of your data

Under the reforms, the European Commission states that the new rules will “put citizens back in control of their data, by:

Under the new reforms, the European Commission states that people will have:

  • A right to be forgotten: When you no longer want your data to be processed and there are no legitimate grounds for retaining it, the data will be deleted.
  • Easier access to your own data: A right to data portability will make it easier for you to transfer your personal data between service providers.
  • Allowing you to decide how your data is used: When your consent is required to process your data, you must be asked to give it explicitly. It cannot be assumed.
  • The right to know when your data has been hacked: for example, companies and organisations must notify the national supervisory authority of serious data breaches as soon as possible (if feasible within 24 hours) so that users can take appropriate measures.
  • Data protection first, not an afterthought: ‘Privacy by design’ and ‘privacy by default’ will also become essential principles in EU data protection rules – this means that data protection safeguards should be built into products and services from the earliest stage of development, and that privacy-friendly default settings should be the norm – for example on social networks or mobile apps.

Your rights

So, do you know your rights when it comes to your personal data? The Data Protection Commissioner says that under data protection regulations people have a number of rights:

1. Right to have your details used in line with data protection regulations

A data controller who holds information about you must:

  • get and use the information fairly
  • keep it for only one or more clearly stated and lawful purposes
  • use and make known this information only in ways that are in keeping with these purposes
  • keep the information safe
  • make sure that the information is factually correct, complete and up-to-date
  • make sure that there is enough information – but not too much – and that it is relevant
  • keep the information for no longer than is needed for the reason stated
  • give you a copy of your personal information when you ask for it.

2. Right to information about your personal details

Data controllers who obtain your personal information must give you - the name of the organisation or person collecting the information or for whom they are collecting the information; the reason why they want your details; and any other information that you may need to make sure that they are handling your details fairly.

3. You have the right to access your personal details and a right to know if your details are being held.

4. You have the right to change or remove your details and you have the right to prevent your details being used.

5. You have the right to remove your details from a direct marketing list

6. You have the right to object to you details being used

Data protection and safety was pushed to the fore last year in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA “Prism” programme revelations. In response to the US spying on its European counterparts, the European Commission said that “trust had been lost” and that means a loss of revenue between the two.

(YouTube/ EU Justice)

To find out more about data protection, click here.

Are you concerned about the data that is held on you or does it not bother you? Why not tell us in the comments section.

Read: 77 per cent of company data breaches are caused by employees>

Read: Users of public wi-fi may have had personal details stolen>

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