European Commission denies watering down data protection laws

The Commission did not cave in to US lobbying, a spokeswoman says

The European Commission on Thursday strenuously denied watering down its proposals for data protection laws as a result of United States lobbying.

The Commission's justice spokeswoman, Mina Andreeva, called the allegations, which appeared in the Financial Times, "a strange story with strange timing."

"We are surprised by the very one-sided account of events that took place in the run up to the presentation of the Data Protection Regulation. While it is no secret that there was immense lobbying on this issue, including from the U.S. authorities, the Commission stood firm," she said.

The reaction from lobbyists since the presentation of the proposed law in January 2012 shows that they did not "get what they wanted," she added.

The FT article cites three "senior E.U. officials" saying that measures that would have limited U.S. intelligence agencies' ability to spy on European citizens were dropped by the Commission following a successful U.S. lobby campaign.

However, Andreeva pointed out that in the draft text, which is still being debated by the European Parliament, a section on geographical scope "makes it absolutely clear that U.S. companies would have to abide by European rules whenever they offer their goods and services to European citizens." The draft text also says that requests to access E.U. citizens' data from third country police authorities should go through existing legal frameworks.

The new Data Protection Regulation would revise the European Union's data protection rules, which date from 1995. But discussions in the Parliament have stalled. Members of the European Parliament (MEPs), who are directly elected by citizens in member states, have put forward more than 3,000 amendments to the text.

Civil liberties activists have accused MEPs of caving in to pressure from big business, particularly from the U.S. and simply "cutting and pasting" from lobbyists' documents.

Some MEPs themselves have expressed alarm at the level of lobbying. "I've never seen anything quite like it," said Pirate Party MEP Christian Engstrom.

Many parliamentarians were also angered by the United States weighing in with its opinion before a final vote had been taken.

A document published in February by the U.S. Mission to the E.U. claimed that the proposed new regulation could "stifle innovation and inhibit growth" and urged the E.U. "to look more towards outcomes that provide meaningful protection for privacy and focus less on formalistic requirements."

And although some MEPs do not wish to antagonize Europe's biggest ally, anger over the Prism data-gathering scandal could lead them to push for stricter data protection rules for E.U. citizens. "At least we can hope that some good will come out of this whole affair," said Engstrom.

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

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags governmentlegislation

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Jennifer Baker

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Cool Tech

Toys for Boys

Family Friendly

Stocking Stuffer

SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

Learn more >

Christmas Gift Guide

Click for more ›

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Aysha Strobbe

Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

Michael Hargreaves

Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

Maryellen Rose George

Brother PT-P750W

It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

Cathy Giles

Brother MFC-L8900CDW

The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

Luke Hill

MSI GT75 TITAN

I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?