On January 28, 2015, in connection with Data Protection Day, newly appointed European Data Protection Supervisor (“EDPS”) Giovanni Buttarelli spoke about future challenges for data protection. Buttareli encouraged the EU “to lead by example as a beacon of respect for digital rights,” and “to be at the forefront in shaping a global, digital standard for privacy and data protection which centers on the rights of the individual.” Buttarelli stressed that in the context of global technological changes, “the EU has to make existing data protection rights more effective in practice, and to allow citizens to more easily exercise their rights.”
Buttarelli also gave his opinion on the “security versus right-to-privacy” debate, which has been the subject of intense discussions in the EU after the deadly attacks on Charlie l’Hebdo in France. While EU policymakers are debating new measures to tackle terrorism that implicate privacy, Buttarelli encouraged “legislators not to act on the basis of emotions and to consider the long term effects.” He stated that privacy is a fundamental right and that measures that undermine privacy in the name of security are lawful only after a showing that the measures are necessary and proportional to the privacy and security interests at issue.
Buttarelli also stated that he intends to work closely with EU institutions and assist their progress on multiple pending initiatives, including the EU Data Protection Reform package. According to Buttarelli, the ongoing legal uncertainty and fragmented data protection framework is not sustainable and is impacting citizens and businesses. The EDPS aims to assist legislators in enacting the EU Data Protection Reform package in order to reinforce EU privacy and data protection standards and promote a culture of data protection.