The EU has announced proposals for sweeping changes to data protection law, with a common regulatory framework to apply to the whole continent . Campaign group NO2ID  urged caution.
The plans (which may take three years to come into effect and will evolve before they do), make much of stiffer penalties for lost data. But NO2ID points out gains for individuals are limited, while the ‘streamlined’ regulations could readily lead to more use of personal information – by governments as well as corporations.
Guy Herbert, NO2ID’s national coordinator, said:
There’s much that sounds good in these proposals, but we need to be careful. This is not a privacy law. Small improvements in individual rights are offset by an urge to ‘boost the digital economy’ – that is, sell your life – and to make life easier for bureaucrats.
In particular, the new huge penalties for commercial cock-ups are a distraction. They are the rarity. It is the routine, lawful, intentional, possibly even competent, trafficking in personal information that we have to worry about. More data protection won’t protect your data from the prying eyes of the database state.
Notes for editors
1) Commission proposes a comprehensive reform of the data protection rules. 25 Jan 2012
‘The European Commission has today proposed a comprehensive reform of the EU’s 1995 data protection rules to strengthen online privacy rights and boost Europe’s digital economy. Technological progress and globalisation have profoundly changed the way our data is collected, accessed and used. In addition, the 27 EU Member States have implemented the 1995 rules differently, resulting in divergences in enforcement. A single law will do away with the current fragmentation and costly administrative burdens, leading to savings for businesses of around €2.3 billion a year. The initiative will help reinforce consumer confidence in online services, providing a much needed boost to growth, jobs and innovation in Europe.’
2) NO2ID is the UK-wide non-partisan campaign against the database state. See http://www.no2id.net/dbstate.php for a list of ‘database state’ initiatives that NO2ID is actively opposing.
For more information, or for immediate or future interview, please contact Guy Herbert (General Secretary, firstname.lastname@example.org) on 07956 544 308.