New delay fuels EU data warning

European UnionClaims that the new EU data laws may never be passed are gathering momentum following news that the final vote has been delayed for the third time, as the wording of the draft continues to vex MEPs and officials alike.
The vote by the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) Committee, originally scheduled for April, then July, has now been delayed until October.
Whether it will now be ratified before new elections in May 2014 is open to debate.
And data protection law specialist Kathryn Wynn of Pinsent Masons says the lack of consensus leaves an axe hanging over the reforms.
“The problem with the proposed Regulation is that it is too prescriptive in detailing how firms should comply with data protection rules,” Wynn said. “The focus ought to be on setting outcomes that businesses need to meet, whilst leaving them with an element of flexibility over how to achieve that compliance.”
More than 3,000 proposed amendments have also been tabled to the Commission’s draft by MEPs in the European Parliament.
“The problem with setting out a prescriptive approach towards compliance is that it involves outlining a lot of detail about how that compliance is to be achieved,” Wynn said. “It therefore becomes difficult for a consensus to be reached from competing ideas about the processes and procedures needed for compliance, and it also encourages a ‘tick-box’ attitude to compliance by organisations.”
“EU data protection laws are out of step with the digital age. They do not properly account for advancements in e-commerce, the rise of social media, multiple jurisdictional transfers of personal data and the increased profiling capabilities brought about by the emergence of ‘big data’. However, an update to the regime is not likely unless an effort is made to make the draft Regulation less prescriptive,” Wynn said.
“The European Commission may have to go back to the drawing board to either frame a new outcomes-focused Regulation or Directive to achieve the reforms necessary,” she added.

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