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European Privacy Directive Recent Review

In July 2008, the UK Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, commissioned RAND Europe to prepare an objective, independent report on the strengths and weaknesses of the European Data Protection Directive 95/46/EC. The report was published in May this year; Mr. Thomas hopes it will contribute to the shaping of future data protection laws.

RAND Europe concludes that the Directive will need to change, as society becomes increasingly globalised. While the widely-applauded principles of the Directive will remain useful and relevant, they will need to be supported by a more effective enforcement regime, to cope with the growing challenge of globalisation and international data flows. However, RAND reports that it was also widely recognised that more value can be extracted from better implementation of the current rules, for example by establishing consensus over the interpretation of several key concepts.

The report identifies several strengths in the current regime: its principles have stood the test of time and are flexible in their application; the Directive has helped to harmonise data protection rules across the European Union and provides an international reference model for good practice.

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