Submitting his 2018 Annual Report to the European Parliament LIBE Hearing today, the European Data Protection Supervisor, Giovanni Buttarelli, said that the Board has had ‘excellent deliberations’ and will meet twice as often as in 2018 when it held five plenaries. The EDPS is a full member of the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), but also provides its secretariat. Buttarelli said that they have been careful to maintain the operational independence of the EDPB secretariat.
“The Chair, Andrea Jelinek, has expertly steered the group through the transition and into the new era, showing remarkable calmness and clarity of purpose. That is why, to my knowledge, all members of the Board were satisfied with the preparations made.”
“As a member of the EDPB, my role is to make sure the general EU interest and vision are fully present in all deliberations.”
Buttarelli said that greater attention should be paid to data protection law implementation at the national level: “There is still divergence, like on the use of data for political purposes, on jurisdiction and competence and on freedom of information, which merits careful reflection. It may be a strong candidate for the agenda of an inter-parliamentary meeting in the near future.”
2019 will be a litmus test for the robustness of the EU legal regime, he said.
He spoke about online manipulation and the EU DPAs’ efforts to ensure that abuse of personal information will not threaten democracy. With the upcoming European elections, European DPAs are sending a signal that European political parties and online publishers are bound by the general data protection rules.
“It is of obvious concern where there is insufficient funding for DPAs, in particular where a Member State has yet to enact an updated data protection law.”
Buttarelli also spoke about the convergence of data protection and competition law. He said that alternative business models are needed which do not rely on constant surveillance, profiling and targeting, but which rather offer technological solutions for better transparency and control.
Mergers of digital economy companies mean that we cannot regulate the digital economy in the old silos of data protection, consumer protection and competition law, he said.
“Longer term, we may indeed be heading towards a more consolidated regulation of digital society. In this year of transition, I intend to offer a personal though also institutional contribution to the reflections on the priorities for the EU in the coming years. I will publish some ideas alongside a short high-level debate on the future of data protection and privacy at international level before the summer.”
The 2018 Annual Report notes that the EDPS now has a new legal basis for policy and consultation activities. Regulation 2018/1725 strengthens the role of the EDPS as the European Commission is now explicitly required to consult the EDPS in specific cases. The new legislation also allows for the EDPS to issue joint opinions with the EDPB.
The 2018 EDPS Annual Report, published today.