European Commission Fights ‘Scaremongering’ Data Privacy Lobbyists

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Viviane Reding says she is standing firm in the face of strong pressure from heavyweight lobbyists

The European Commission has bitten back at lobbyists attempting to water down its proposals on privacy.

A host of major companies, including Amazon, BT, eBay, Facebook and Yahoo, as well as the US government, want to see some of the more stringent parts of the data protection directive and regulation changed.

They believe the Commission’s plans to strictly enforce privacy by design and the right to be forgotten are too heavy-handed and would be damaging for business. Proposed fines of up to two percent of annual turnover for serious breaches have caused quite a stir too.

Just last week, RSA chief Art Coviello slammed current privacy legislation in Europe, telling TechWeekEurope they actually harmed civil liberties by allowing cyber criminals to use laws to keep their illegal activities secret.

EU, European Union © SmileStudio Shutterstock 2012Privacy wars

Reports had claimed MEPs had copied and pasted substantial pieces of lobbyists’ documentation into their official recommendations on the proposed laws, causing uproar amongst privacy advocates.

The Commission told TechWeekEurope last year it was strongly resisting the efforts of lobbyists. And at the 2nd Annual Cloud Computing Conference yesterday, Viviane Reding, vice president of the European Commission, reiterated her stance.

“Those who want to lower the level of protection in Europe have tried to slow the file down. I will not let this happen,” Reding said.

She took lobbyists to task on the issue of consent, saying claims that explicit consent would be needed in all circumstances were untrue and that the proposals would not lead to hundreds of pop-ups. “This is only the scaremongering of certain lobbyists,” Reding added.

“Citizens don’t understand the notion of implicit consent. Staying silent is not the same as saying yes.

“The final challenge relates to the speed with which we will reach a deal. The answer is simple. It is for this Parliament and for the current Members to deliver the reform,” she added.

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