Pushy US lobbyists spark EU warning

Fears are growing that overzealous lobbying by American groups against the proposed revamp of EU data laws could ultimately have a negative impact on MEPs, and lead them to dig their heels in over calls to water down the legislation.
The move comes after complaints from a number of MEPs about the pressure they are facing to backtrack over the new measures, amid calls for UK firms to wake up to how the EU Data Protection Regulation could wreak havoc with their business.
Dutch member Sophie In’t Veld, Swedish MEP Christian Engstrom and German member Jan-Philipp Albrecht have all said that the European Parliament has been subjected to one of the most concerted lobbying campaigns they have ever seen.
Even Justice Commissioner Vivian Reding, who put forward the proposed regulation, has admitted that the lobbying is fierce.
And a new online forum, LobbyPlag, claims to have unearthed evidence that many of the changes MEPs are taking on board have been copied directly from documents supplied by Amazon, eBay and the American Chamber of Commerce.
And it is urging EU citizens to counter-lobby their own MEPs to find out why they are not protecting their privacy.
Meanwhile digital rights organisation Europe Versus Facebook said although there are legitimate questions from business, most lobbying from American IT giants seeks “to push through small changes in key points that make the whole structure of the law unstable”.
“In a nutshell: The IT industry is about to kill our fundamental right to data protection and privacy and some parliamentarians apparently do not even notice when assisting them,” it said.
One source commented: “If they’re not careful, the US approach could backfire on everyone. If MEPs feel they’re under too much pressure from massive companies, they may well think twice about changing the laws. Having said that, UK businesses must not sit on their hands; but there’s a fine line between expressing legitimate concerns and using bullying tactics.”

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