Sunday

20th Jan 2019

Focus

Academics line up to defend EU data protection law

  • The European Commission says internet technologies can help boost the EU's overall economic output (Photo: powtac)

Leading academics across Europe are signing an online petition to support the European Commission’s draft data protection regulation in protest at industry lobbying to weaken it.

“They decided they had to do something against EU lobbying on the draft regulation,” said Anne Grauenhorst, who helps manage the site for the Centre for Advanced Security Research Darmstadt (Cased), on Monday (11 March).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

The Data Protection in Europe’ site was launched in February by five German academics and an Austrian colleague.

To date, over 80 professors from computer science, law, economics and business administration disciplines have joined.

The academics are spread among 19 member states while others have signed on from Switzerland and Norway. More are joining.

“If you had asked me last week, if we would have 80, I would have told you that certainly I would have liked it but I wouldn’t have made any promises,” Dr Kai Rannenberg, professor at Goethe-University in Frankfurt/Main and one of the initiators of the project told EUobserver.

Rannenberg said the intensity of lobbying in Brussels to weaken the regulation by the industry prompted them to create the site.

“The fact that so many came [to sign the position] actually shows that the situation is serious,” noted Rannenberg.

The commission’s draft updates an 18-year old directive that aims to bring the law in line with the latest technologies.

The right to be forgotten and fines for organisations that mishandle personal data are among the novelties some experts believe will ensure greater privacy rights for individuals.

The protection of personal data is also guaranteed under the charter of fundamental rights.

But pro-industry groups are pushing amendments into the regulation to help shape parliamentary committee opinion reports.

Some of the amendments weakened the commission’s draft by removing safeguards and introducing terminology that is more open to interpretation in favour of industry.

The reports are then passed onto the civil liberties committee who get the final say in April before it goes to vote in the plenary.

The LobbyPlag website exposed in February dozens of euro-deputies who copy-pasted industry proposed amendments directly into the regulation.

The practice, while not uncommon by EU lawmakers when drafting legislation, convinced some academics to sign the petition and help shift the debate away from the industry’s view that the regulation would harm innovation and competition.

The Data Protection in Europe site notes, for example, that the uncertainty over data protection itself is what prevents some companies from adopting cloud computing services.

“We have seen that a regulatory context can promote innovation,” say the academics.

The site refers to a study conducted by the Boston Consulting Group, a US-based firm, that states profit potential could be seriously undermined if people do not trust companies who want to use their personal data.

The group estimates €440 billion in 2020 in the EU alone is at risk if the industry fails to establish a trusted flow of data.

Sweden: EU data bill threatens transparency

Sweden’s justice ministry says the EU’s draft data protection law could harm Swedish transparency rules - a cornerstone of its constitution for 250 years.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Supported by

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us