1995–2012: from a directive to a regulation, the Microsoft perspective
By: Jean Gonié & Peter Cullen, Director of Privacy, EU affairs & General Manager Trustworthy Computing and Chief Privacy Strategist
17 July 2012

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On 25 January 2012, the European Commission unveiled a comprehensive proposal to modernize its 17-year-old data protection regime. Given the vast technological and societal changes that have occurred since Directive 95/46 went into effect, this is a vitally important effort, and the stakes are high.

Once finalized, the new Regulation will shape the EU privacy landscape for the next decade and will influence privacy regimes in many parts of the world.

The Commission's proposal includes many positive recommendations that should be embraced. Most importantly, the proposal is a ‘Regulation’ that leads to almost complete legal harmonization, rather than a ‘Directive’ giving each EU member state wide latitude to implement the provisions it in its own way as is now the case. If adopted as proposed, the EU would have a harmonized legal environment for data protection in the 27 member states, rather than a patchwork of different laws. Industry should welcome these steps to harmonize Europe's data protection regime, since companies would benefit significantly by getting greater clarity about the obligations that apply to the control and processing …

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