Will the new data protection rules be even weaker than the old ones?

By EDRi · June 5, 2013

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Deutsch: [Wird das neue Datenschutzgesetz schlechter als das alte? |]

The draft regulation on data protection proposed by the European
Commission in January 2012 is being debated by MEPs to decide on de
direction of the vote to be taken in the civil liberties committee,
possibly at the beginning of July 2013.

The draft, which has more than 4000 amendments focuses on issues such as
the right to be forgotten, data portability, profiling, consent and
access to one’s own personal data.

Some of the many amendments are resulted from the high and continuous
lobbying pressure from large companies and seem to be meant to delay the
process and undermine fundamental rights. Peter Hustinx, the EDPS, has
warned that the EU’s bill is in danger of collapse because of “excessive
lobbying” by corporations and other entities which are against the
privacy reform.

The lobbyists argue that strong data protection will trigger social and
economic regression and that principles such as consent are
economically unsustainable and should be diluted. The US has several
times asked, publicly, for the weakening of the rights of European
citizens. Stewart Robinson, Justice Counsellor with the US Mission to
the EU, at the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection conference in
Brussels in January 2013, condemned the European proposals and stated
that rights were “what we (the government) give you”.

As if external pressure was not enough, the MEPs seem to be unable to
agree upon such issues as territorial scope. UK Liberal MEP Baroness
Sarah Ludford argued that companies in the EU which cater only to non-EU
residents should be exempt from the regulation and stated that there was
a need to “get legal clarity on which individuals are covered by the
proposed regulation, whether it is people when they are present in the
EU or those outside the EU.” As deputies have not reached a common
agreement, the issue is to be negotiated by the Commission.

German Green Jan Philip Albrecht gave in an interview on
29 May 2013 a pretty pessimistic view on the development of the debates:
“We promised the people that we will help give a proper legislation that
will better enforce their rights, better protect their interest … and in
the end, the only thing that we are doing – and this is not excluded –
is to water down existing law. That is not what people would like to
see.” In his opinion, some of the amendments discussed and voted on
would make the regulation even weaker than the existing 1995 directive
which is the foundation of the draft regulation.

Albrecht’s opinion is that actually the draft text might end in
weakening all the previous declarations of the European Parliament.
“Much of what we have said unanimously is now contested by lobbyist
groups and by some members in here in the house who seem not to feel
obliged by the resolution they voted on in the first place,” said Albrecht.

For instance, the original outline of the regulation set out penalties
of up to five percent of a company’s global revenue for egregious and
repeated misuse of personal information. This has reached down to two
percent and further on, the Industry, Research and Energy Committee of
the European Parliament voted to lower the ceiling even further to one

With a lot of pressure from large companies, it is up to the citizens to
stand up for their rights by writing to their MEPs before it is too
late. It is also possible that the debate will be delayed by the
numerous amendments.

Don’t let big businesses strip you of your privacy rights! Take control
of your data!

German petition for a strong data protection regulation

EDRi: If we assume the earth is flat – how much does data protection
cost? (28.05.2013)

If we assume the earth is flat – how much does data protection cost?

Euro-deputies diverge on data protection details (25.05.2013)

New EU data law could end up weaker than old one (29.05.2013)

Analysis: Why the EU data protection crisis is more perilous than you
imagined (31.05.2013)

Analysis: Why the EU data protection crisis is more perilous than you imagined