UK: EU Parliament Votes For Major Overhaul Of EU Data Protection Laws

Last Updated: 11 December 2013
Article by Belinda Doshi and Robyn Chatwood

Summary and implications

The European Parliament has voted − by an overwhelming majority − to significantly overhaul current European Union (EU) data protection laws. As a result, a single data protection law in the EU looks set to replace the existing patchwork of national laws. The new law will impact almost every business operating within the EU and, controversially, many businesses outside the EU.

On 21 October the European Parliament's Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (the LIBE Committee) voted to:

  • approve a compromise text for the draft General Data Protection Regulation (the Regulation); and
  • authorise MEPs Jan-Philipp Albrecht and Dimitrios Droutsas to negotiate directly with the Council of the EU regarding its adoption.

Once adopted, the Regulation will replace and supersede the current EU Data Protection Directive (the Directive).


On 25 January 2012 the European Commission proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU's data protection laws. The centrepiece of the reform package was a new draft General Data Protection Regulation (the Commission Draft). The aim was to update EU dataprotection laws to support a digital single market.

The European Parliament's approval follows months of negotiations between various European Parliament committees. The LIBE Committee has been responsible for shepherding the draft Regulation through the European Parliament. The compromise text is a considerable achievement for what is reputed to be the most intensely lobbied piece of EU legislation.

Key provisions in the Regulation

Most of the general principles in the Regulation are to be welcomed. These are summarised below. However, there are real concerns about how the detail behind the principles will be implemented.

One continent, one law

The Regulation will establish one single data protection law across all EU Member States. This will be a major benefit for international businesses and other organisations which currently have to grapple with 28 different national laws. The reason behind this is that, as a Directive, the European Data Protection Directive required local law implementation. Each Member State implemented the Directive differently. In contrast, the Regulation will have direct effect. Once adopted, it will apply automatically across all the EU Member States.

One-stop shop

The Regulation will establish a "one-stop shop" for data protection regulation in the EU Member States. Currently international businesses and other organisations need to deal with each data protection regulator in each Member State. Under the Regulation they will only need to work with a single data protection authority. This should make it simpler to do business in the EU. The Regulation will also result in an end to the red tape of data protection notifications.

Level playing field for all companies – regardless of establishment

The Regulation will extend the territorial scope of EU data protection law. It will apply not only to EU established businesses and other organisations that process personal data but also to those based outside the EU who wish to:

a) offer goods or services to individuals in the EU; or

b) monitor the behaviour of those individuals.

Any non-EU based business or other organisation which considers that it might be caught by these provisions is strongly recommended to seek advice on this point.

Giving individuals greater control over their data

The Regulation will give individuals greater control over their own personal data. Under the Regulation, individuals will have a new right to erasure of their personal data. The Regulation also introduces a new right to data portability.

Key amendments in the Compromise Draft

Although the official version of the draft Regulation has yet to be published, an unofficial version has been circulated by LIBE's lead rapporteur, Jan-Phillipp Albrecht (the Compromise Draft).

Below are the key amendments in the Compromise Draft as compared to the Commission Draft. As a general comment, the provisions in the Regulation have hardened in the Compromise Draft.

  • Higher penalties for breach: Any person in breach of the new Regulation will face fines of up to €100m or five per cent of annual worldwide turnover (whichever is the greater). This is a significant increase on the Commission Draft's proposed penalties of up to €1m or two per cent of annual worldwide turnover. It is noticeable that the Compromise Draft does not refer only to data controllers in these provisions. Data processors in breach of their obligations under the Regulation will also be liable.
  • Primacy of EU law. In response to the recent US PRISM revelations, the Compromise Draft provides that where there are conflicting compliance requirements between the jurisdiction of the EU and another country, "the Commission should ensure that EU law takes precedence at all times." Furthermore, if a data controller or processor receives a request for disclosure of personal data from a court or administrative authority of another country, it must notify the relevant data protection authority without undue delay and must obtain prior authorisation for the disclosure. These provisions will be challenging for international organisations in highly regulated sectors such as banking.
  • Mandatory data protection officers. In the Commission Draft, the appointment of a data protection officer (DPO) was linked to the number of staff employed. Under the Regulation, data controllers and data processors will be required to appoint a DPO if processing personal data for more than 5,000 data subjects. They will also be required to appoint a DPO is they process certain higher risk types of personal data such as sensitive personal data, location data or children's data. In the Compromise Draft DPOs are now required to be appointed for a minimum tenure of four years (as opposed to two years in the Commission Draft). Corporate groups however may appoint one responsible DPO for the group in some circumstances. All public authorities will be required to have a DPO.
  • Data breach notification. Data controllers will be required to notify breaches personal data breaches to the relevant data protection authority. However, the Compromise Draft has relaxed the time period for notification as provided in the Commission Draft. In the Compromise Draft, data controllers are obliged to notify their relevant data protection authority "without undue delay". The text states that this will be "presumed to be no later than 72 hours" after the breach. This is more generous than the Commission Draft which provided for notification within "24 hours" "where feasible". However, this amendment does not address the real issue of how personal data breaches are defined and the risk of "over notification" for minor breaches.
  • Data protection reviews and privacy impact assessments. The Commission Draft introduced the concept of privacy impact assessments (PIAs) as a core compliance requirement. PIAs , as their name suggests, is a risk analysis of new data processing activities. The Compromise Draft has significantly strengthened these provisions setting out detailed requirements for the performance and documentation of PIAs. The Compromise Draft also now requires data protection compliance policies to be reviewed (and updated, where necessary) every two years.
  • New rules for international data transfers: The Regulation introduces a new "European Data Protection Seal" as an adequate basis for transfers of personal data outside the EEA to recipients who hold a seal. The seal will form part of a new certification program whereby controllers and processors can subject their activities to an audit by the data protection authority or an accredited certifier. The seal will be in addition to current international transfer mechanisms such as model contract clauses and binding corporate rules.

Next steps

There is considerable political will in Brussels to have the text of the Regulation agreed by the Council of the EU in 2014. The EU Parliament LIBE Committee has announced that it intends to hold a plenary vote on the Regulation on 14–17 April 2014. This vote is expected to be a mandate for the Regulation, either in the current form of the Compromise Draft or with those further amendments agreed by the Council of the EU.

Although the UK and Sweden are opposed to this swift timetable, the rest of the Member States appear to be in favour of reaching agreement in 2014. Businesses and other organisations which think they might be impacted by the Regulation are, therefore, advised to keep a close eye on these developments.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Belinda Doshi
In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.