Tuesday

20th Nov 2018

EU privacy rules tilt to industry, NGO says

  • Online messaging services spell big money for industry (Photo: Roel Wijnants)

A pro-transparency group has documented intense industry lobbying in the lead up to a vote on digital privacy at the European Parliament this week.

Brussels-based Corporate Europe Observatory, an NGO, on Tuesday (17 October) said over 800 amendments had been tabled on a bill designed to protect privacy and protection of electronic communication data for people.

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

First proposed earlier this year by the European Commission, the so-called e-privacy regulation is facing a key vote in the civil liberties committee on Thursday (19 October) with the bulk of the amendments weighing in favour of the industry.

The NGO report suggests a heavy footprint from the industry in the lead up to the EU commission's proposal in January and towards MEPs ahead of the Thursday vote.

It noted some 41 meetings to discuss the file were held in 2016 between lobbyists and the European Commission. Of those, 36 were corporate interest and five with civil society.

"The figure of 41 meetings is likely to be an under-estimate," notes the report, given that private meetings and roundtable talks are not included.

It noted that industry lobby groups in Brussels have spent large sums of money to represent big internet firms like Amazon, Facebook, Google or telecom companies like Orange, Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone.

E-privacy or data protection

The industry is broadly opposed to the regulation, claiming it will restrict innovation and that the upcoming data protection regulation is good enough.

The data protection regulation deals with personal data, whereas e-privacy deals with the confidentiality of communications.

Trade unions, civil groups and NGOs say e-privacy rules are needed to protect fundamental rights.

A leaked version of the proposal, first published by Politico Europe in December 2016, took on a sudden shift towards pro-industry views when the EU commission finally made the proposal public the following month.

"It is impossible to say exactly what impact all the heavy corporate lobbying had on the final Commission proposal," noted the report.

But it said things like default privacy settings and the ability for class-action suits went missing in the final version.

The final version was presented in late January by EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova and Andrus Ansip, the vice-president for the digital single market.

"Our proposal will guarantee privacy for both content and metadata derived from electronic communications for example like the time and location of a call," said Ansip at the time.

He noted people will have the right to say yes or no when it comes to use of their own data and that user consent would be paramount.

But others like the Paris-based digital activist NGO, La Quadrature du Net, say the reforms to be voted on Thursday would broadly strip users of their consent.

It says the political groups have agreed to compromises that favour the industry over fundamental rights.

Such data is big money. In 2015, it was valued at €275 billion in the European Union. The EU commission believes it could triple by 2020.

The latest reforms aims to replace the current e-privacy directive, which applies only to telecom operators.

The plan is to pry open online messaging services and collect the content or meta-data, such as place and time, supposedly based on user consent.

Metadata can be used to produce heat maps in terms of where people are moving, which may be useful for developing transport services.

The content of emails are being scanned for targeted advertising, which may also pose privacy issues for the users.

Privacy rules to create jobs, EU data chief says

Giovanni Buttarelli, the European data protection supervisor, says e-privacy reforms open up new job opportunities for small businesses in Europe and asks EU lawmakers to endorse the proposal in a vote on Thursday.

Column / Brussels Bytes

Some EU regulators still don't get internet economics

New EU data protection rules threaten the European digital economy, but recent actions by some national regulators remind us why EU-wide rules cannot come soon enough.

News in Brief

  1. Future of EU's Mediterranean naval mission in doubt
  2. EU budget talks for 2019 collapse
  3. EU mulls new Russia sanctions over Ukraine 'elections'
  4. EU farm chief 'confident' sugar prices will recover
  5. Researcher: EU expert groups still imbalanced and opaque
  6. Nature groups disappointed by EU fishing deal
  7. DUP chief says Irish backstop was 'tactic' by EU
  8. Ireland extradites Polish man despite rule of law concerns

Opinion

Interpol, China and the EU

China joins a long list of countries - including Russia - accused of abusing Interpol's 'Red Notice' system to harras activists and dissidents.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Cyprus and Greece to create EU spy academy
  2. MEPs likely to delay vote on greater transparency
  3. Cold shoulder for Franco-German euro budget plan
  4. Whistleblower: Danske Bank gag stops me telling more
  5. Spain raises Gibraltar, as EU and UK talk post-2020 relationship
  6. Panic is not answer to EU's security challenges
  7. Dutch flesh out proposal for EU human rights sanctions
  8. EU cheerleaders go to Russia-occupied Ukraine

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us