ASCOLA Competition Law series
Edited by Josef Drexl and Vicente Bagnoli
Chapter 8: Pro-competitive regulation of personal data protection in the EU
Globally, the regulation of personal data protection is likely to become increasingly significant in the coming years. Much as there is a distinct trend towards promoting an ever more incisive use of personal data with a view to achieving not only economic, but also social benefits, consensus is growing that a high level of protection is needed. The regulatory approach to personal data protection is already well established in the EU. Worldwide, the first data protection law was enacted by the German federal state of Hesse in 1970, while Sweden passed the first national law in 1973, followed by Germany in 1977 and France in 1978. The EU Data Protection Directive still in force today was adopted in 1995 and its influence on the development of data protection legislation extends well beyond Europe. Recently, the European Commission has decided to propose substantial changes (a reform package) to the current legal framework. Even in the market-friendly US landscape, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC)and the White House do not ignore the pressing need to make the protection covering personal data more effective. It is not hard to anticipate that competition among comprehensive data protection systems, at present mitigated by the EU’s dominance, will likely intensify in the near future. Seemingly, legal provisions impinging on the commercial gathering and use of personal data have a significant impact on a variety of economic activities. In particular, personal data have become an essential element of many entrepreneurial activities characterizing the so-called Internet economy.
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