High stakes in big data economy

Nieuws | de redactie
18 april 2013 | The EU’s new regulation on data protection is so strongly lobbied by industry that academics from computer science, law and business administration take up the gauntlet: the rules must not be watered down.

More than 100 leading academics, mostly in the field of computer science, have signed an online petition drawing attention to the heavy influencing of the European Data Protection Regulation that is taking place.

In 2012 the European Commission presented a first draft of a revised regulation on data protection. As the processing of personal data by internet companies, insurers and banks is growing, it makes sense to regulate ‘the right to be forgotten’ and to limit what companies may do with your personal data.

Aggressive lobbying

The topic brought U.S. style lobbying into the European Parliament. Austrian representative Eva Lichtenberger spoke of “the biggest lobbying war of all times” and accused American firms and American based companies of “aggressive lobbying”. Apparently the stakes in the ‘big data economy’ are pretty high.

The German crowd sourced initiative Lobbyplag devoted a whole website to the copy-paste-practices of Members of the European Parliament and to the fierce lobbying practices of companies like Amazon, Ebay and innumerable banking organizations.

Lobby spinnenweb
The petition in defense of data protection refutes a number of arguments used by personal data-companies. The core argument against the proposed data protection regulation is that the regulation will negatively impact innovation and competition. The signatories on the contrary claim that “a regulatory context can promote innovation.”

Furthermore they say that uncertainty on data protections prevents companies from adopting cloud computing services. More trust in data handling practices will strengthen relationships between companies and consumers.

Control on your personal data

The industry lobbies strongly for an opt-out principle, as used in the U.S., where companies can use personal data as long as the used does not opt out. Contrary, the proposal of the European Commission strengthens “informational self-determination.”

The academics state that “An inversion of the informed consent principle into an opt-out principle considerably weakens the position of citizens. Such an inversion gives less control to individuals and therefore reduces their trust in the Internet.”

Explicit consent

Last week in the civil liberties committee, the representatives of the European Parliaments held on to the ‘right to be forgotten’, and to explicit consent before a person’s data is collected.

During the debate on the Data Protection Regulation 3.133 amendments were tabled. At the end of May the responsible civil liberties committee will vote on the topic, followed by a plenary vote at the next Strasbourg session.

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