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In October 1998, the European Directive on Data Protection went into effect. The directive was introduced to safeguard the processing of personal data within the member States of the European Union (EU).


The objectives of the directive as stated by the EU are:

  1. Member States shall protect the fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons, and in particular their right to privacy, with respect to the processing of personal data.
  2. Member States shall neither restrict nor prohibit the free flow of data for the reasons of establishing and fostering an even closer relationship of the Member States.

Member States of the EU have to adopt the directive in the pursuant of national laws regarding the processing personal data. The member States should also ensure the quality of the data by ensuing that it is

    • Processed fairly and lawfully.
    • Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes.
    • Accurate and when necessary kept up to date.
    • Kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects fro no longer that is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected or for which they are further processed.

A data subject right of access to data and the information to be given are also stipulated in the directive. Since coming into effect, the directive has prohibited the transfer of personal data to non-European Union States that do not meet the European "adequacy" standard for privacy.

View the final EU Data Protection Directive here.



International Medical Informatics Association
American Medical Informatics Association
UK Health Informatics Society
British Computer Society Health Informatics Committee
European Federation for Medical Informatics
American Nursing Informatics Association
American Telemedicine Association

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Last Updated: 9 August 2006.

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