The new EU justice commissioner has dashed any hopes of an easier ride over the data protection reforms by laying into critics and urging member states to stick to their guns and agree on strong data protection rules fast.
Martine Reicherts is only a short-term replacement for fellow Luxembourg politician Viviane Reding, and it is not known whether she will take on the role permanently after the Commission elections next month.
In her first speech since taking up the role, Reicherts has accused Google of using the recent “right to be forgotten” ruling to try to shoot down the data protection reforms.
Speaking in Lyon, she said: “Just as work on the data protection reform has picked up speed and urgency, detractors are attempting to throw a new spanner in the works. They are trying to use the recent ruling to undermine our reform.
“Search engines such as Google and other affected companies complain loudly. But they should remember this: handling citizens’ personal data brings huge economic benefits to them. It also brings responsibility. These are two sides of the same coin, you cannot have one without the other.”
Reicherts also played down the implications of the European Court judgment, adding: “A sober analysis of the ruling shows that it does in fact not elevate the right to be forgotten to a ‘super right’ trumping other fundamental rights, such as the freedom of expression.
“This ruling does not give the all-clear for people or organisations to have content removed from the web simply because they find it inconvenient.”
She backed her speech by tweeting: “I urge Member States to stick to their commitments. #EUCouncil needs to agree on strong #dataprotection rules fast.”
Reding, who was the main architect of the draft EU Data Protection Regulation, stepped down last month. She is backing the bid by her compatriot Jean-Claude Juncker to secure the Commission presidency which would, in turn, preclude her from a fourth term in the EU executive.
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