Today the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force across EU member states after a two-year implementation period comes to an end.

The GDPR is ground-breaking because – for the first time – rules adapted for the internet will apply equally across the EU to the use and processing of personal data. The previous legislation dated back to the nineties and was in dire need of updating.

GUE/NGL MEP Cornelia Ernst (DIE LINKE, Germany), who negotiated the legislation on behalf of the group, comments:

“After a long back and forth, and without forgetting the impact of Edward Snowden’s case, it was possible to find a parliamentary majority in support of a modern data protection regulation in the EU. Between the NSA scandal and the case of Cambridge Analytica five years have passed. The half-baked hearing of Facebook CEO Marc Zuckerberg last Tuesday proves that a new set of rules for the protection of personal data is not only badly needed but long overdue.”

“We welcome the novel aspects of this law, which are now legally enforceable. Together with other left-centre groups and against the opposition of the conservative sections of the Parliament, we were able to put across many of our concerns for the protection and respect of fundamental rights during the negotiations. Privacy is a right without which democracy in the age of the Internet cannot function – despite the security approach of the law-enforcement establishment.”

“This regulation will assure minimum technical standards by making companies build data protection into the new products and services they design (privacy-by-design and privacy-by-default). As for companies that process information in a large-scale, the regulation is unambiguous, those who do not abide by the rules, will be asked to pay and it won’t be little.”

Ernst criticised efforts by governments to weaken the legislation:

“Certain governments have made it clear that they intend to soften the GDPR because for them it is too bureaucratic and sudden. This made me realise how member states and companies are disproportionately unprepared and uninformed compared to the massive and organised lobby efforts they had mounted during the negotiations,” Ernst concluded.