I was having lunch with an old colleague today who was convinced that the new EU Regulation due to come effective in 2015 or 2016 was going to change everything! What’s more nothing is decided, so everything is floating in the air….

Don’t panic. First the EU Regulation will be based on a foundation of what exists today, i.e. the Directive. The problem with the Directive is that it is not enforced effectively in member states, and the local laws are not a direct interpretation of the Directive. For example each country has interpreted the laws as they understand the directive…now just think about the language challenges, cultural challenges. Each country has their own interpretation of the Directive. What is more is that each member state may have legislation that has been around for a long time that has priority over any data protection law that is enacted, this creates all sorts of issues. For example in Sweden the personal ids of citizens are considered as public records, so they are not protected by the data protection law.

When it comes to enforcement and fines for misalignment with the Directive, some member states have been more active than others. Now this will change with the new Regulation.

Clearly there are aspects that we don’t know. Basically the member states cannot come to an agreement. However what you should focus on is what we know, and that is the incumbent Directive. Use that is your baseline, leave the unknown aspects until later. Believe me you have enough work already!