American Lobbyists Are Writing Europe's New Data Protection Laws
The American government and various corporate entities have mounted an unprecedented lobbying campaign against reform of Europe’s data protection laws and, as a new site using openly-available data demonstrates how much influence their lobbying has, a coalition of privacy groups wants it to stop.
“To be clear, we do not view privacy as a partisan issue. The tradition of privacy law in the United States is bipartisan, and we urge you to work with leaders in both parties to ensure that this fundamental American right is safeguarded. At the same time, we expect leadership from those who represent the United States overseas and we expect that the views of American consumers and privacy advocates, not simply business leaders, will be conveyed to your counterparts.”
In a letter addressed to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, and U.S. Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank, a coalition of privacy groups that includes the Electronic Frontier Foundation, American Civil Liberties Union, and Electronic Privacy Information Center is urging the government to scale down what has been called a fierce lobbying campaign against Europe’s attempts to reform their data protection laws.
Draft proposals of the reforms have focused on what kind of personal data companies can collect, what they can do with it, and what level of permission they have to receive first, and none of it looks good to American companies, which make most of their money collecting and selling said data and have to abide by the EU’s laws when operating in any European countries. So they joined forces with the Chamber of Commerce in an attempt to water down the proposals.
And it’s working. A new site started by Richard Gutjahr (German) called LobbyPlag compares changes proposed by lobbyists with amendments proposed by EU committee members and much of it is identical. In other words, many proposed amendments to the data protection proposal have come straight from American lobbyists.
It’s not clear how much effect American lobbyists will have on the final legislation, which is expected to go to a vote at the end of April, but while the letter sent from privacy advocates last week says “the US should not stand in the way of Europe’s efforts to strengthen and modernize its legal framework,” European Members of Parliament are evidently happy to take dictation from American lobbyists.