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Amendments to proposed Data Protection Regulation lack understanding

Compromise amendments made to the EC’s Data Protection Regulation proposals fail to show a balanced approach and suggest a lack of understanding of how the online business world works, the IPA has announced today (25th October 2013).


Some six months behind schedule, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) voted on its amendments to the Commission’s data protection proposals on Monday, 21 October. The approved text largely supports the Commission’s original proposals for a new data protection Regulation published in January 2012.

IPA Legal Director, Richard Lindsay, said: “There is little doubt that data protection law needs updating in light of the advances made in communications technology since the implementation of the 1995 Data Protection Directive. However, the amendments approved by LIBE suggest a lack of understanding of how the online business world works. In particular, extending the scope of personal data so broadly and requiring explicit consent for its processing will be hugely problematic and the provisions around the use of profiling are very unclear.

“There were some minor concessions to business, such as the inclusion of the category of pseudonymous data (“personal data that cannot be attributed to a specific data subject without the use of additional information, as long as such additional information is kept separately and subject to technical and organisational measures to ensure non-attribution”), but even those need further work. There is no sign of a sensible, risk-based approach that will both protect consumers and enable businesses to thrive.

“Unfortunately, the compromise amendments fail to meet the right balance between the interests of consumers to have their privacy protected on the one hand, and businesses to innovate and interact with consumers on the other.”

The IPA is involved in the Advertising Association’s working group which, with the EACA, has been lobbying on behalf of the advertising industry and IPA members.  The EACA is a member of the Industry Coalition on Data Protection which has been publicising the threats to business that the proposals raise.

Next steps:

Justice Ministers are due to meet in December this year before negotiations take place between the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the Commission and it seems likely that the Parliament will push to obtain a full vote on the final text of the proposed Regulations before the Parliament elections in May 2014.

Further information:

Read the amendments to the Commission’s data protection proposals (unofficial text).

Read the IPA’s Legal Alert on the EC Data Protection Regulation Proposal Summary of Issues, published in February 2013.

Last updated 25/10/2013

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