Civil rights coalition says EU data protection bill threatens citizens' rights

Many proposed changes would weaken the legislation, the coalition says

Some of the proposed changes to Europe's data protection laws would strip citizens of their privacy rights, a coalition of international civil liberties organizations said Thursday.The European Parliament is currently considering proposals from the European Commission for a complete overhaul of the E.U.'s data protection laws. The original laws date from 1995, the pre-Internet age, and are arguably in great need of an update.However, the debate about how to update them has been intense. Creating one regulation to replace national data protection and privacy laws in the 27 E.U. countries obviously requires compromise, but many parliamentarians report never seeing lobbying on such a scale before. In an effort to reach some sort of consensus, more than 4,000 changes to the draft text have been proposed.The civil liberties coalition, which includes Access, Bits of Freedom, EDRI, La Quadrature du Net and Privacy International, has set up a website, nakedcitizens.eu, to help concerned citizens contact their representatives in the Parliament.The groups have also presented a report based on their analysis of the proposed amendments. "Among the thousands of amendments tabled are a large number that threaten to severely weaken privacy rights in the U.K.," the report said. "These damaging amendments are largely the result of an unprecedented lobbying storm by big U.S. tech companies, the U.S. government and the advertising industry.

Some of the lobbying positions were published earlier this year at LobbyPlag.eu, a website that compares amendments put forward to the text submitted by lobbyists such as Amazon, eBay and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

One suggested amendment would alter the way Web companies could define "consent" to gather data, according to the coalition. Rather than "informed, specific and explicit" consent, companies could "assume consent has been given or to include consent language in hard to understand terms and conditions" the report said.

Another contentious issue is the right to be forgotten. Much of the concern is over the role of search engines. Privacy advocates want to see the burden of proof shifted from consumers justifying why data should be deleted to businesses having to prove why it should be kept.

"Without effective privacy protection, our personal lives are laid bare, to be used and abused by business and governments," said Joe McNamee of European Digital Rights and spokesperson of the coalition.

The final committee vote in the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament is due to occur on May 29. Once the committee has given its opinion, the proposal will be voted on by Parliament. Only then can it be signed by the member states.

Ireland, which currently holds presidency of the European Union, is keen to see the new law signed before the end of its term July 1.

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 governmentprivacylegislationdata protectioneuropean commission

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

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?