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ISSUE 69 page 8

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Sites of interest

 

 Web sites mentioned on this page are available at:
 ePIC:
 Günther Oettinger’s blog page:
and twitter feed

EU data law inches forward after ECJ ruling

THE EU”S ATTEMPT TO MODERNISE ITS DATA PROTECTION legislation has a long history. Almost three years ago legislation was tabled by the then Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and was expected to soon replace laws dating from 1995. However various Member States had objections to the proposals and, although the European Parliament approved the prospective law in April, the Council of Ministers has still not agreed a position. This means that the three-way discussion between the institutions, known as the ‘trilogue’, prescribed as part of the co-decision procedure, cannot begin. Incoming President Jean-Claude Juncker wants the law passed during the first six months of the new Commission. European consumer association BEUC agree, ‘After nearly three years of negotiations, lawmakers can’t afford to lose more time’ stressed their spokesman. One of the more recent stumbling blocks was the decision of the European Court of Justice on the ’right to be forgotten’ (see issue 67); this has now resulted in 143,000 requests to search engine Google for the removal of 491,000 offending links. Opinions on the effect of the judgement on the new law vary from the need to incorporate it into the text to the U.K.’s wish to downgrade the whole proposal from a regulation to a directive. Meanwhile controversy rages as to how the ruling is being implemented. Google only remove results when the complainant’s name is used and only from European domains i.e. the same search on google.com will return the banned results. This is not good enough for EU politicians: ’We can't leave it up to those who run search engines to take a final decision on the balance between these different fundamental rights’ said the Austrian justice minister.

New digital Commissioner blasts off into the twitter sphere
ePIC makes it easier to track hazardous chemicals

NEW EU COMMISSIONER FOR THE digital economy and society Günther Oettinger has followed his predecessor Neelie Kroes in a fondness for modern methods of communication. It is not clear, however, if he is a ‘digital native’ or just somebody who has been advised to get online by his officials. Having revealed that ‘I go online every day’ he followed up with the proud boast that ‘Sometimes I even put my own appointments into the calendar using my iPhone’. Unfazed by the lukewarm reception for these remarks he has already held a question and answer session on Twitter but got help from a German newswire to process the answers. He showed an interest in new rural broadband networks, though refused to say whether the EU could afford to fund them, and signalled a possibly tougher line on Google ‘we want to bring a degree of fairness into the relationship between the users, Google and its competitors’.  There are rumours that the Commission will attempt to break Google’s operations in Europe into smaller parts. On the concept of ‘net neutrality’, the present situation where it is not possible for big internet users like video on-demand web sites to pay more for a faster connection, he sat on the fence. ‘Clearly-defined services could be made available at a higher performance level for an additional charge’ he hinted but ‘it must not lead to a degradation of general Internet standards’. Apparently calendar appointments are not the end of his cyber-talents. He has about 40 apps on his iPhone and his favourite predicts the weather as ‘I do not always want to take a coat with me if there is no need’.

Oettinger, G.

Digital Commissioner Oettinger gets to grips with his new responsibilities

IN THE EUROPEAN UNION CERTAIN very hazardous substances are subject to Prior Informed Consent procedure. This means that companies importing them from or exporting them to a non-EU country must obtain explicit consent of the authorities in the receiving country and inform the national authorities of the country where they are based. The records of these requests and notifications, going back about ten years, have now been uploaded to a new search engine called ePIC based at the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The ‘Search for chemicals’ function on the ECHA home page can be accessed via the name or number or category of use. They include those substances that are totally banned as well as those that need prior notification. Dates of import and/or export and details of the explicit permissions from national authorities can also be searched.

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