• Reding wants the EU data protection reform completed by May 2014 (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

EU wants data protection bill by May 2014

15.07.13 @ 17:07

  1. By Nikolaj Nielsen
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BRUSSELS - The European commission wants legislators to speed up the data protection bill currently stuck in the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee.

The regulation and its adjoining directive aim to protect the personal data of EU citizens from abuse by creating a single uniform EU-wide law.

EU commissioner for justice Viviane Reding on Monday (15 July) issued an appeal for member states to place the bill on the agenda of an EU summit in autumn.

“I would find it helpful if the European Council in October, which will deal with the European single market, could address this matter and speed up the work in the Council on this important file,” she said.

Reding is pushing to get the data package completed before the European Parliament elections in May 2014.

The package has suffered a number of delays in the parliament as MEPs in the civil liberties committee debate the details of some 4,000 amendments.

Their orientation vote, which recommends how the euro-deputies should vote once the bill hits the plenary floor, was initially scheduled earlier this year.

The orientation vote is now provisionally set for mid-October.

Reding’s appeal follows German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s call for stronger EU-wide data protection rules.

Merkel on Sunday said US companies based in Ireland like Facebook and Google must explain to what extent they share the personal data of EU citizens with US authorities.

The fall-out over the revelations by the Guardian newspaper on the extent and scale of the US-led snooping operations like Prism has caused public uproar in Europe and put Internet and tech giants on the defensive.

Facebook in June announced that it received between 9,000 and 10,000 user data access requests from government entities in the US in the last six months in 2012.

The social media giant wants US authorities to ease restrictions to better inform its users on the types of requests they receive and how they respond.

Meanwhile, European Commission officials are reviewing two pre-existing data transfer agreements with the US in parallel to the trade negotiations in Washington.

They are checking if the US respects the conditions outlined in the passenger name record and the Swift agreements.

A clause entitles either side to terminate the agreements with a six-month notice.

Home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom had already issued a warning in a letter to the Americans that both agreements are at risk if the review reports fail to impress the data protection safeguard concerns of the European Parliament.

The reports should be ready in the Autumn.

An EU official close to the issue said both agreements are in danger because of Prism.

The review meetings kicked off last week amid “a profound mistrust” between the EU and US, he noted.

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