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Privacy Tracker | The LIBE Vote on EU Data Protection: What, Exactly, Happens on Monday? Related reading: "Building Ethics into Privacy Frameworks for Big Data and AI": A report from UN Global Pulse and the IAPP

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Yesterday the Daily Dashboard ran a report stating:

After two years of gridlock the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE) has scheduled votes on the reports on the revised data protection regulation and directive for Monday in Strasbourg. An announcement on the European Parliament’s website says, “The committee will adopt a mandate for negotiations with the council in order to try and reach a common agreement on the Data Protection package before the European elections in May 2014.”

Through The Privacy Tracker we would like to shed some light on what we thought was somewhat cloudy in the coverage we read about Monday's LIBE vote and the path forward for the EU regulation and directive.

What happens on Monday

LIBE, the European Parliament’s Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, will vote on amendments put forth by rapporteur Jan Philip Albrecht to the EU Data Protection Regulation, which sets out a general EU framework for data protection, and those presented by Dimitrios Droutsas to the EU Data Protection Directive, which sets out rules on the protection of personal data processed for the purposes of prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of criminal offences and related judicial activities.

The LIBE will vote on each of the amendments one-by-one, and either accept or reject them, resulting in a new draft of each of the proposals. If all goes as planned, we should have a new draft of both the regulation and the directive EOD Monday.

After Monday

What will happen now is seeing some debate; this draft will either go straight to the Council of the European Union or to a plenary Parliament vote. For our purposes, let’s go with the latter.

Assuming the full Parliament adopts the LIBE’s drafts, it will pass them along to the Council of the European Union. Council, made up of justice ministers from all EU member states, will then look at the new draft and either accept it, or amend it and return it to Parliament for a second reading.

If after two readings in both Parliament and Council, no agreement is reached, the Conciliation Committee is convened, composed of equal parts MEPs and Council reps, and they work to come to an agreement. The Commission takes part in the Conciliation Committee’s proceedings and takes all the necessary initiatives with a view to reconciling the positions of the EP and the Council.

Once the Council, Parliament and Commission agree on a draft, the legislative act is adopted. The act is signed by the presidents and secretaries general of Council and Parliament and it becomes law.

Here’s a handy infographic of the EU legislative process, in general.

In Summary

While this is a very important step in the process of coming to an agreement on what EU data protection rules will look like in the future, this is just step two in a process that may continue on for some time. What the LIBE puts forward will offer insight into those aspects of the proposals that it considers important, but it is by no means what the regulation or directive will look like at the end.

The Word on the Street

What we’ve been hearing from EU privacy experts is that the most likely course of action will be that Parliament will put forth a strict and different draft than what it received and send it to Council. Council will then come back with a more lenient proposal than what came from the Commission. At which point, the Commission will offer up the original proposal, noting that it was the happy medium all along.

What’s that quote? Oh yes. "Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made."

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