New data protection rules at risk, warns chief watchdog

27th of June 2013
New data protection rules at risk, warns chief watchdog

New EU data protection rules could collapse because of ‘excessive lobbying’, foot-dragging by MEPs and entanglement in trade negotiations with the USA, Europe’s chief data protection watchdog has warned.

“There is some concern about excessive lobbying and circulating messages that create wrong impressions,” said Peter Hustinx, the European data protection supervisor.

The review process for the new rules had attracted “enormous attention from industry alleging that data protection rules are a hindrance to innovation”.

Hustinx singled out the “right to be forgotten” – a proposal in the data protection regulation designed to protect individuals from having their data retained by internet operators – as a key target of lobbyists.

“The Commission emphasis on the right to be forgotten has created an enormous feedback that nothing should be forgotten, and it’s overstated,” Hustinx said.

He said that it was important to “distinguish the proposal from the rhetoric”. Although the proposal “cannot be delivered in all its details in practice”, he said its emphasis on imposing time limits on the retention of data and stipulating when data should be erased would be welcome.

Many of the provisions in the proposed regulation “make eminent sense” and could be achieved through stronger privacy by design, Hustinx said, adding that business interests from abroad and within Europe had overstated claims that implementing the rules would be too costly and stifle innovation.

Hustinx also warned that a “coalition mixing transatlantic business interests” was seeking to join negotiation over the new data protection rules to attempts by the EU and the US to reach a comprehensive free trade agreement.


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