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EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding has said the proposed EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) must “move full speed ahead,” Bloomberg reports. The clock is ticking on the GDPR with European Parliament elections coming this May.

“We have lost too much time already,” Reding said in a prepared statement for a speech in Brussels. She also said Greece, which just gained the six-month rotating EU presidency at the beginning of January, will push the GDPR forward. Reding said the European Commission “will support the Greek government’s ambitious objective to reach an agreement by the summer,” adding, “It is now up to member states to deliver the goods.”

Not everyone agrees, however, that the GDPR will move forward. In discussing the two main privacy surprises of 2013, Google Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer wrote on his personal blog that “Europe’s much-ballyhooed, and much-flawed, proposal to rewrite its privacy laws for the next 20 years collapsed. The old draft is dead, and something else will eventually be resurrected in its place.” Noting that “whatever comes next will be the most important privacy legislation in the world,” Fleischer said he was hopeful the “pause will give lawmakers time to write a better, more modern and balanced law.”

“Peter is particularly right when he says we need a more modern law,” said Field Fisher Waterhouse Partner Eduardo Ustaran, CIPP/E, in comments provided to The Privacy Advisor. “The draft that is still up for discussion is laden with unworkable elements like an over-reliance on consent and international data flow restrictions, whilst it misses to recognize the value of data.”

Looking for more information on data protection reform in the EU? Check out Close-Up: EU Data Protection Reform in the IAPP Resource Center for links to the directive, proposed regulation and related documents as well as analysis, opinions and guidance.

The European Parliament and the NSA

Meanwhile, after months of inquiry, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) committee draft report on U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance has been leaked. From July 2013, the LIBE committee held more than 15 hearings and drew from submissions from EU and U.S. experts, EU institutions and even the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. government. The report lays out five reasons not to act, five reasons to act and a list of seven recommendations.

Among the action items, the report recommends the adoption of the GDPR in 2014; conclusion of the EU-U.S. Umbrella agreement “ensuring redress mechanisms for EU citizens in case of data transfers from the EU to the U.S. for law enforcement purposes”; the suspension of Safe Harbor “until a full review is conducted and current loopholes are remedied”; suspension of the TFTP; better whistleblower protections, and the development of “a European strategy for IT independence (at national and EU level).”  

The report’s “conclusions and proposed recommendations are not entirely surprising given the known stance of LIBE on these issues, but that does not make this report any less extreme,” Ustaran said in separate comments provided to The Privacy Advisor. “To put it simply, LIBE’s report is a call for a massive closedown of data flows between Europe and the rest of the world.”

Editor's Note: Look for an upcoming Privacy Perspectives post from Ustaran reacting to the LIBE committee report.

Read more by Jedidiah Bracy:
Federal Courts at Loggerheads in NSA Surveillance Cases; Snowden Disclosures to Continue in 2014
Federal Judge Rules NSA Phone Metadata Collection Program Likely Unconstitutional
Tech Biz Urging U.S. Lawmakers, Global Governments To Reform Surveillance Law
Where the FTC Has Been and Where It's Headed in 2014

Written By

Jedidiah Bracy, CIPP/E, CIPP/US

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