First victory in war on EU data laws

The direct marketing industry’s £47bn fight against the worst excesses of the EU Data Protection Regulation has received a major boost after an influential group within Brussels voted to water down many of the proposals.
According to reports, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market & Consumer Protection (IMCO) has also kicked out many of the latest moves to strengthen the Regulation, most notably those put forward by the Germans.
As a result of the reprieve, elements such as a ban on online profiling and the 24-hour time limit on reporting personal data breaches have been rejected.
The decision is not final, as there are five more votes before the fate of the Regulation is sealed at a so-called plenary meeting, likely to take place in the summer.
It also contradicts claims made earlier this week by EU’s Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding – who drafted the original measures – that the root and branch reform is progressing at “full speed”.
Yet the vote is a welcome development for the DM industry, which has been lobbying hard against the Directive, ever since it was first unveiled in January last year.
The US authorities have been equally vociferous, creating a dedicated taskforce of around 50 members, in addition to countless US lobbying groups already present in Brussels.
But according to one privacy group, La Quadrature Du Net, the vote shows that the EU Parliament is “caving in” to US lobbying groups, and should be treated as a “wake-up call”.
Jérémie Zimmermann of the group said: “This vote shows how much the European Parliament can be influenced by the massive lobbying driven mostly by giant US corporations (banks, insurance and Internet services) going against the interest of EU citizens.
“It should act as a wake up call for citizens to defend their right to privacy against the illegitimate collection, process and trade of their personal data,” he added.
The organisation maintains that there is no consensus on the Directive among the different parties of the EU Parliament, and is calling on other groups to step up their counter-lobbying efforts.

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