EU chiefs have been accused of “ripping the guts” out of the proposed data protection reforms following leaked documents which claim to show European Council plans to pass a more business friendly version of the new laws.
Although no-one is popping the champagne corks just yet, the changes will bring much needed cheer to the direct and digital marketing industries as they appear to show the worst excesses of the General Data Protection Regulation have been watered down.
The changes, which cover consent for data use and online tracking, as well as the one-stop approach and data breach notification, are far from a done deal as they still have to be voted through by the European Parliament but would certainly make life a lot easier for many data companies.
One of the biggest changes is that the new text would allow people’s personal records to be processed if a company can show it has “legitimate interest” in doing so. The area of consent has been one of the biggest bugbears for DM companies, who fear they will be forced to use only opt-in data; this requirement would now appear to have been removed.
Another of the proposed rights affected by the Council’s changes is the right not to be tracked by companies online without consent. The Council now suggests that failing to change the default settings in a browser to prevent tracking, or failing to change the settings back, constitutes consent to being tracked and profiled online.
But European digital civil liberties group EDRi – which has been working with civil liberties groups Access, the Panoptykon Foundation and Privacy International – slammed the move, claiming: “Some of the Council’s proposals gut data protection of all meaning.”
Joe McNamee, executive director of EDRi, said: “The Regulation is becoming an empty shell. Not content with destroying key elements of the proposal, the EU Member States are rigorously, systematically and thoroughly undermining the meaning of every article, every paragraph, almost every single comma and full stop in the original proposal.”
EU justice ministers will next meet on March 13 to discuss the plans.
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