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Privacy warriors slam MEPs over 'corporate-friendly' data law rewrite

Euro politicos 'undermine trust and confidence', argue campaigners

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Privacy campaigners are up in arms about a European Parliament committee's decision to adopt a drafted opinion on data protection that some have argued further waters down Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding's proposed rewrite of DP law.

Lobbyists from the European Digital Rights (EDRi) group warned that the move could cripple privacy regulation in the EU, after 900 amendments were reportedly approved by MEPs.

The EDRi said on Thursday:

The Industry Committee (ITRE) of the European Parliament today adopted a disastrously badly drafted Opinion on data protection. The effect of the adopted text would be to effectively rip up decades of privacy legislation in Europe, undermining trust and confidence – to the detriment of both citizens and business.

Digital activists at La Quadrature Du Net agreed that the decision was a disaster for privacy law in Europe and urged EU citizens to lobby their MEPs hard and to complain about big corporations influencing the rewrite of data protection law.

Another campaign group - Lobbyplag.EU - has highlighted how opinions expressed by the likes of Amazon and eBay appeared to have been copied by MEPs who have put forward amendments to the European Parliament.

That outfit is calling for a "mandatory lobby register" that would:

Create rules for whether and to what extent and by what clearly defined rules outside persons [and] remote workers can work in ministries and may work on draft legislation.

Lobbyplag, which is short for Lobby Plagiarism, argued that the current system is a "a grey area that we must no longer tolerate".

According to the EDRi's executive director, Joe McNamee, some "bad amendments" were rejected by MEPs in order to "scrape" a majority vote together. He argued: "It is becoming increasingly difficult in the Parliament to find majorities for measures which are destructive to citizens’ rights."

Among proposals understood to have been adopted, personal data would be processed by third parties without a legal requirement to inform consumers if they can prove "legitimate interest" about such action.

The EDRi argued that such a "bizarre" move would completely freeze out a citizen's control of their own data, thereby rendering the "entire legislative measure close to meaningless".

Here in the UK, Reding's proposal to overhaul data protection law in Europe came under attack late last year from a panel of British MPs. The politicians urged the justice commissioner to rewrite her plan - warning that it was too rigid and that failed to address "national context" relating to how such legislation might fly in different parts of the European Union.

Reding laid out her proposals in January 2012 in a move to update the 18-year-old 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. ®

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