EU official: No contradiction between increased data regulation and digital economy

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A European Union effort to require greater regulation around the use of personal data isn't incompatible with developing digital products, said European Commission Director General for Justice Françoise Le Bail before a Washington, D.C., audience earlier this month.

"There is no contradiction between protecting the rights and developing the market," Le Bail said during a May 21 Center for Strategic and International Studies event. In fact, she added, greater individual data protection will help market development "because the consumer is asking for it."

The European Parliament has under consideration a data protection package first unveiled by the European Commission in 2012 consisting of a proposed general regulation that would cover the bulk of European citizens' personal data and a directive addressing specific criminal data sharing matters. The parliament's Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee has twice delayed a first vote on the package, most recently in late May. A committee vote would be the first step toward sending the proposal to the Council of Ministers, an upper legislative chamber consisting of member nation government representatives.

The current Irish president of the council (the presidency rotates among members every 6 months) has asked the committee to ready a "negotiating mandate" by June so it can in turn ready a consensus text to be re-voted on  by the committee and then sent to the full parliament by the beginning of 2014. Delays at the committee level may put that timetable in doubt. One reason for the delays has been the number of amendments proposed to the regulation – 3,133, in fact.

The proposed regulation has drawn controversy for, among other things, inflexible implementation requirements and the requirements themselves, such as explicit consent for utilizing personal data, a somewhat circumscribed "right to be forgotten," private sector data protection officers and penalties for breaches that could reach 2 percent of total global revenue. The proposed regulation would also limit using data to predict behavior and require data portability between service providers.

Among the critics is the United Kingdom, which issued in January a report (.pdf) stating that the regulation in its proposed form could cost the British economy £100 million to £360 million annually and calling the regulation "over prescriptive."

For more:
- go to the CSIS event webpage (archived webcast available)

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