Brussels chiefs leading the shake-up of EU data protection legislation have warned the proposals are on the verge of collapse, and could even lead to weaker laws than the original 1995 version being passed.
Talking to journalists after delivering his annual report to the civil liberties committee (LIBE), European data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx blamed excessive lobbying, foot-dragging by MEPs, and entanglement in trade negotiations with the US for forcing the changes off track.
He said: “There is some concern about excessive lobbying and circulating messages that create wrong impressions.” The review process for the new rules had attracted “enormous attention from industry alleging that data protection rules are a hindrance to innovation”, he said, adding that “the right to be forgotten has created an enormous feedback that nothing should be forgotten, and it’s overstated”.
Lobbying has stalled passage of the legislation, despite the Irish EU presidency working “very, very hard” in an attempt to reach agreements.
“But the Parliament seems to slow down, and latest language this morning [29 May] was maybe [agreement on the issues would come] not before the summer, maybe in September,” Hustinx said, adding: “Well, then, time is running out on us, and we cannot afford to fail.”
Meanwhile, German Green MEP Jan Philip Albrecht has warned that a number of the amendments discussed and voted on would make the regulation weaker than the existing 1995 directive it is supposed to replace.
“We promised the people that we will help give a proper legislation that will better enforce their rights, better protect their interest and in the end, the only thing that we are doing – and this is not excluded – is to water down existing law. That is not what people would like to see,” he said.
MEPs in 2011 voted on and adopted a resolution to ensure the regulation would be as strong, if not stronger, than the 1995 directive. MEPs backed the resolution in a near unanimous vote.
“Much of what we have said unanimously is now contested by lobbyist groups and by some members in here in the house who seem not to feel obliged by the resolution they voted on in the first place,” said Albrecht.
“If we pass through a legislation undermining what we have said in our resolution, undermining current law, then I think we will completely lose the trust in the European Parliament and in the European Union as a whole,” he added.
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