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European Parliament Votes on Data Protection Reform and Mass Surveillance

13/03/2014 by

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Wednesday was a big day for data protection and privacy in Europe. The European Parliament voted on both the Commission’s proposed data protection reforms and the LIBE committee’s report on mass surveillance. The former was approved by 621 votes to 10 (22 abstentions) while the latter was approved by 544 votes to 78 (60 abstentions).

Parliament’s approval of the data protection reforms (the EC’s GDPR) sets the stage for a political battle between the EU and the Council of Ministers (that is, the individual national governments) in the second half of 2014. The Council also needs to adopt the proposals before they can become European law, but while ‘broadly supportive’ there are strong individual reservations. The UK believes that the proposals are too restrictive, while German fears they might weaken its existing laws.

The Commission, however, is ready for the battle. Progress, it said in amemo released yesterday, is now irreversible. “The message the European Parliament is sending is unequivocal: This reform is a necessity, and now it is irreversible. Europe’s directly elected parliamentarians have listened to European citizens and European businesses and, with this vote, have made clear that we need a uniform and strong European data protection law, which will make life easier for business and strengthen the protection of our citizens,” said Vice-President Viviane Reding, the EU’s Justice Commissioner.

While political reality means there will need to be further compromise between the Council and the EU, parliament’s rapporteur for the reforms, Jan Philipp Albrecht, is adamant: “I have a clear message to the Council: any further postponement would be irresponsible. The citizens of Europe expect us to deliver a strong EU wide data protection regulation. If there are some member states which do not want to deliver after two years of negotiations, the majority should go ahead without them.”

This article has been extracted from http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com, please click on this link to read the article in full http://www.infosecurity-magazine.com/view/37425/european-parliament-votes-on-data-protection-reform-and-mass-surveillance/

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