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Major Loopholes in Privacy Regulation - EU Parliament Must Stand For Citizens

Strasbourg, 21 October 2013 — The “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) Committee has just voted its report on Data Protection, led by Jan Philipp Albrecht. Despite some improvements, major loopholes – especially on “legitimate interest” and “pseudonymous” data – and the adoption of the secrete tripartite negotiation mandate (trilogue) could make the final text totally ineffective at protecting citizens. During these forthcoming negotiations, representatives of the Parliament should secure strong safeguards for citizens fundamental right to privacy.

Jan Philipp Albrecht
Jan Philipp Albrecht

By adopting compromise amendments 61 and 202, members of the “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) Committee, responsible for this matter, introduced the risk of making the whole legislation completely ineffective, despite the progress made tonight – the “explicit consent principle” have for example been mantained. The Members of the LIBE Committee also made the very disturbing choice of accepting the secrete tripartite negotiations requested by the rapporteur Jan Philipp Albrecht. The text will now be modified behind closed doors, between the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council (ministers from the Member States). The latter could use untransparent negotiations to annihilate all the positive provisions of this Regulation, leading to a weak and dangerous final version of this legislation. Beginning the negotiations this way will undermine the European Parliament's position, and reduce the chance of public debate and citizen mobilisation.

In absence of a democratic and transparent debate, the representatives of the European Parliament in these opaque negotiations should make sure that the achievements for strong safeguards for citizens' fundamental right to privacy are protected, even if that means postponing the adoption of the final Regulation. It will be better to have real protection of European citizen privacy at the end of a long process, than a dangerous weak text before the next European election. The Parliament must seize the occasion of plenary vote to remove the dangerous loopholes opened by today's vote.

“Even though today's vote marks some advances for the protection of privacy, it introduces major loopholes that could make the whole Regulation ineffective. Moreover, the regrettable choice of the LIBE Committee to enter into secrete tripartite negotiation could also significantly weaken the Regulation. Representatives of the European Parliament will have to weigh in all along the negotiation process to make sure that the fundamental right of European citizen to privacy is fully protected.” concluded Miriam Artino, policy analyst for the citizen organisation La Quadrature du Net.

  • 1. This compromise may turn the “legitimate interest” exception into the main legal basis for processing, depriving citizens of any prior control (such as explicit consent) over how their personal data are processed.
  • 2. This compromise would void any protection against profiling based on “pseudonymous” data. But “pseudonymous” data may still be easily attributed to data subjects through further processing. Thus, any profiling based on such data must stay under data subjects' control.
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