Justice minister Simon Hughes has pledged that the UK will fight to the bitter end against the proposed reforms of EU data protection laws, maintaining it is crucial that they do not burden SMEs.
Arguing that the original form of the European law could have cost the UK economy up to £360m a year in penalties, Hughes said the UK will continue trying to delay and ‘water down’ the proposals.
He said: “The Government wants to see EU data protection legislation that protects the civil liberties of individuals while allowing for economic growth and innovation.
“We are clear that these should be achieved in tandem and not at the expense of one another. There is now a growing consensus in the negotiations around the importance of not placing disproportionate burdens on small and medium enterprises.”
In January, the key architect of the reforms – EU justice minister Viviane Reding – insisted they are still on track.
She stressed that the last update – passed in 1995 – took five years to get the green light, so getting the EU General Data Protection Regulation passed by the end of 2014 will be a “good result”.
However, there are still substantial hurdles to negotiate, not least the European Parliamentary elections in May this year which could see hundreds of new MEPs voted in, who have not even seen the proposed laws.
Then there is the “one-stop shop” approach, which has been deemed illegal by one EU advisor; consent for marketing data; the rise of “pseudonymised data”; and the cost of hiring data protection officers.
Earlier this week, the DMA revealed that despite a rise in awareness among businesses of the new laws, a third of firms have done nothing to prepare themselves for the reforms.
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