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MPs slam Europe's plan for rejig of data protection law

Such rigidity will never be acceptable to us

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A proposal to overhaul data protection law in Europe came under attack today from a panel of British MPs. The politicians have urged Brussels' justice commissioner Viviane Reding to rewrite her plan.

A scathing report published this morning by the House of Commons Justice Select Committee warned that Reding's proposed directive, in its current form, was too rigid and that it failed to address "national context" relating to how such legislation might fly in different parts of the European Union.

The MPs complained:

We regard as authoritative the UK Information Commissioner's assertion that the system set out in this draft Regulation 'cannot work' and is 'a regime which no-one will pay for', and we believe that the Commission needs to go back to the drawing board and devise a regime which is much less prescriptive, particularly in the processes and procedures it specifies.

They went on to accept that data protection law in the EU needed a shakeup and welcomed certain aspects of Reding's bill, but added that "the proposals do not allow for flexibility or discretion for businesses or other organisations which hold personal data, or for data protection authorities".

Reding - occasionally spotted having stern words about Britain's handling of sensitive information - laid out her proposals in January this year to update data protection law in the 27 member-states that make up the EU. She has long claimed to be a champion of the rights of the individual, but she is all for making concessions for businesses, too - a point that immediately led to allegations that the commissioner was watering down the bill to allay the fears of ad execs.

The full report can be viewed here. ®

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