EU justice commissioner Viviane Reding has launched a last-ditch attempt to get the new data laws back on track, claiming the reforms are the only way to protect €1tn (£810bn) worth of data from US government snooping.
Reding made her fresh call to arms during a speech in which she claimed the region’s economy will suffer unless new uniform data protection laws – currently stuttering through Brussels – are passed.
She said: “Trust in the data-driven economy, already in need of a boost, has been damaged. According to the Boston Consulting Group, the value of EU citizens’ data was €315bn in 2011, with the potential to grow to €1tn annually in 2020.”
“Trust has been lost in all these spying revelations. They are particularly damaging for the digital economy because they involve companies whose services we all use on a daily basis. The data protection reform proposed by the Commission in January 2012 provides a response to Europeans’ concerns about Prism as well as the underlying lack of trust.”
Reding also cited recent claims of the damage “Prism-gate” will cause to the US cloud computing US industry to back up her case. According to one estimate, the revelations will cost the industry up to $35bn in lost revenues over the next three years.
Blasting the current regime as no longer fit for purpose, she added: “A business operating in all 28 member states has to comply with a different set of rules in each country. It has to deal with a different data protection authority in each country. The reality is 28 different laws and 28 different interlocutors,” she said.
With time running out to get the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation passed, there are already plans to rubber-stamp a “light” version of the legislation, leaving MEPs to fill in the blanks after the May 2014 European elections.
However, there are fears the measures will be rushed through by MEPs. Speaking at a separate event earlier this week, UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said it would be a big mistake if the EU “just march on” to get it rubber-stamped before the elections.
He added: “We have heard industry being dismissed for lobbying, but I’m very critical of the European Parliament now simply going into politicking mood. I don’t want to see a wrong regulation just because individual MEPs want to be on the critical point on their party list for next May.”
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