Confusion over EU data protection watchdog resolved

The current privacy czar will stay in the job for another 10 months

The European Union's data protection czar has committed to staying on the job until October, ending uncertainty after no suitable replacement could be found.

Peter Hustinx, the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), has been in the role for the past five years. His term expired on Jan. 16, but despite efforts to find a replacement, no one was deemed worthy.

The European Commission, whose job it is to draw up a select list of candidates, recommended that the current procedure should be closed and a new search launched.

The role of the EDPS is very important as the E.U. is overhauling its data protection laws with a new regulation expected to be approved in the next 12 months.

On Monday, the EDPS also published the latest "scorecard" based on a survey of how more than 60 E.U. institutions are performing in terms of processing personal information.

"I'm delighted with the progress that the E.U. institutions have made," said Hustinx. "Ten years of our active supervision have resulted in significantly higher levels of compliance with data protection obligations across E.U. services. This is a powerful indication that institutions are recognizing that they are accountable for applying data protection rules."

Based on the results of the survey, the EDPS will keep a close eye on the European Investment Fund, the European Institute for Security Studies, the European Union Satellite Centre, the ENIAC Joint Undertaking and the European GNSS Agency. These institutions are processing more data than ever before, the survey showed.

The right to data protection and privacy are fundamental rights in the E.U. and Hustinx has recently been outspoken in his criticism of the U.S. National Security Agency's alleged widespread surveillance of E.U. citizens.

Follow Jennifer on Twitter at @BrusselsGeek or email tips and comments to jennifer_baker@idg.com.

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