EU Commission takes legal action against Hungary

The EU Commission has concerns over the independence of Hungary’s data protection authority. The Commission’s view is that the current law which creates a new National Authority for Data Protection, replacing the Data Protection Commissioner prematurely from January 2012, is in conflict with EU law. The independence of data protection supervisors is required by the EU Data Protection Directive, and confirmed by the Court of Justice ruling on Germany (C-518/07 of 9 March 2010), which says that DP authorities must remain free from any external influence, including the direct or indirect influence of the state.

The Hungarian authorities were informed of the infringement procedures on 17 January and now have a month to respond to the Commission.

Vice-President Viviane Reding, EU Justice Commissioner, said: "I have already raised serious legal concerns regarding potential violations of the independence of Hungary's judiciary and the Hungarian data protection authority when I first saw drafts of laws in early December. Now that the laws have been passed without taking into account the Commission's legal concerns, it is the Commission's responsibility as guardian of the Treaties to ensure that EU law is upheld. I expect the Hungarian authorities to address the Commission's legal concerns swiftly. Only actual changes to the legislation in question, or their immediate suspension, will be able to accommodate the Commission's legal concerns."

Privacy Laws & Business published:
1. an e-news on on 22nd December on an earlier stage of this dispute between the European Commission and Hungary, and
2. a 4 page report on and recommendations to Hungary’s Ministry of Justice from Privacy Laws & Business’s Privacy Officers Network Roundtable in Budapest on 8th December 2011. This report explains the precise nature of the problems with Hungary’s new data protection law which are not covered in the public communications between the European Commission and Hungary’s government, and makes constructive recommendations on how the new law could be amended to bring it into line with DP laws in other Member States of the European Union.