The EU Art 29. Working Party finished its 80th plenary meeting in Brussels last week.  This week, the Party released a series of new policy opinions produced during the plenary.  The highlights included:

  • A declaration that, in WP 29’s opinion, New Zealand’s data protection regime is now “adequate” for the purposes of international data transfer.  This opinion will now be taken into account by the Commission when it decides whether or not to officially declare New Zealand as an “adequate” jurisdiction for the purposes of transferring data out of the EU.
  • A paper expressing WP 29’s concern with the proposed EU passenger data directive.  WP 29 deplored the too-wide scope of the proposal, which would collect data from all passengers on all flights entering or leaving the EU.  The opinion also expressed scepticism about the Commission’s plan to ‘anonymise’ data after 30 days, and claimed that the data would not actually be anonymised, but merely available to fewer people.
  • An opinion on “smart meters”, providing guidance on issues such as how to define a “data processor” in a smart energy grid, whether data subject consent is needed to transfer metered information back out to the energy company, and encouraging smart meter systems to be designed in accordance with the ideals of “privacy by design” and “privacy by default”.
  • An expression of support for the Commision’s communication last November calling for the reform of the currently patchy data breach notification regime.  Right now Member States all have different requirements in regards to data breaches – for example, some Member States require no notification under any circumstances, while some, such as Germany, have strict “harm” thresholds that must be passed before a company must notify either the affected data subjects, or the national authority.  The WP 29 paper expressed support for an expansion of the data breach regime seen in the E-Privacy Directive, and lent its support to this reform effort.