Leaked EU Data Directive amendments show alignment with Regulation, though vote is less certain
The European Parliament Committee that deals with civil liberties and justice issues will have a first vote this week on the revised European data protection framework after months and months of deliberations and negotiations over more than 4,000 amendments. The vote is the first on the framework, which will decide the future of privacy and data protection in Europe. The recent revelations surrounding government surveillance involving some of the Internet's biggest companies have highlighted the urgency of an update of Europe's privacy rules.
While attention is focused on the general data protection Regulation, few have highlighted the fate of the Directive dealing with data protection by law enforcement authorities, which is also scheduled to be voted on this week. Privacy International has received leaked copies of the final amendments for the Directive, which you can find here or below. For more on the leaked Regulation, please go here.
We have stated in the past that the weaker provisions of the draft Directive must be brought into line with those of the Regulation, and we are pleased to see that by and large the amendments that will be put to the vote do just that, and particularly for the rights of the 'data subjects'. But we understand there is no consensus on these amendments, so we strongly urge Parliamentarians to be consistent in their votes between the two laws - or we risk ending up with a gaping hole which will swallow fundamental privacy protections. There is no such thing as effective separation between personal information given to commercial entities (handled under the Regulation) and that in the hands of law enforcement authorities (handled under the Directive).
In addition to the Directive, the Regulation will have a major impact on the digital environment for citizens, businesses and public bodies. Civil society groups are concerned that any weakening of the European data protection rules and principles will undermine the rights and freedoms of European citizens. The past months have shown how important it is to limit the collection of data to the minimum necessary, to ensure privacy by design and to safeguard the right of individuals to delete their data from online services. The European Parliament now has the responsibility to ensure that Europe gets strong data protection rules for a competitive and harmonised market.
The Regulation will only be as strong as its weakest link, so it is critical that no loopholes are created that would undermine our democratic rights.