Long-awaited data protection regulations were officially passed into law by the European Union on Tuesday (Dec. 15).
According to The New York Times, the changes are expected to provide citizens with more control over the collection and management of their digital information and will go into effect by early 2017.
The law will be issued throughout the European Union and is expected to increase the right to privacy of European citizens, which reportedly 90 percent of Europeans demand.
The EU data reform is expected to replace the patchwork of data-related protections and rules currently available in the EU.
In a statement, Andrus Ansip, VP for the Digital Single Market, said: “Today’s agreement is a major step towards a Digital Single Market. It will remove barriers and unlock opportunities. The digital future of Europe can only be built on trust. With solid common standards for data protection, people can be sure they are in control of their personal information. And they can enjoy all the services and opportunities of a Digital Single Market."
Ansip added that data and privacy protections should not be viewed as a barricade to economic activities but instead as necessary to spur competition. He added that the next step will be to work on reducing limitations on cross-border data flow.
The EU Data Protection Reform establishes fundamental rights for citizens, modern guidelines and rules for businesses and benefits for companies of all sizes.
"These new pan-European rules are good for citizens and good for businesses. Citizens and businesses will profit from clear rules that are fit for the digital age, that give strong protection and, at the same time, create opportunities and encourage innovation in a European Digital Single Market,” Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality Věra Jourová explained.
"And harmonized data protection rules for police and criminal justice authorities will ease law enforcement cooperation between Member States based on mutual trust, contributing to the European Agenda for Security,” Jourová added.