Introduction to the Data Protection Special Feature
The final adoption on October 24 1995 of the European Directive on the protection of individuals with regard to the processing of personal data and on the free movement of such data (the 'Data Protection Directive') marked the culmination of more than 20 years of, albeit sporadic, European Community interest in the topic.
With the exception of Greece and Italy, all Member States have enacted data protection legislation. Substantial variations exist between the national statutes and one of the prime justification for the European Union's intervention has been to secure a measure of harmonisation. This will require significant changes to the existing laws of most of the Member States. In addition to its internal impact the Directive contains significant provisions regarding the control of Transborder data flows. The legislation's impact will in this respect be felt throughout the world and these provisions have, indeed, formed the subject of widespread and heated international comment.
The Directive is to be implemented in the Member States before October 24, 1998. With this collection of articles we begin what will be a living and growing feature on the impact of the Directive. In this issue we have comment concerning the Directive itself and from leading authorities in Denmark, Ireland, the Netherlands and Sweden. In future issues we will publish contributions from other Member States. We will welcome contributions from any jurisdiction and would also be delighted to receive views on data protection and the impact of the Directive from countries outwith the European Union. The feature will develop over the next three years to provide up to date information on the format and progress of national implementing measures.