Brussels, Belgium – Access Now welcomes the much-anticipated decision of European Ministers in charge of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) to conclude their position on this crucial reform and allow for the start of trialogue. This will be the final stage of the negotiations where Parliament, Council, and Commission gather to agree on a common text. Access Now hopes the EU institutions will be able to agree on a final text before the end of the year, as promised by Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg. Luxembourg will be at the head of the Council of the EU starting July 1, 2015 and therefore in charge of leading the discussion on behalf of the 28 EU member states.
“Three years into the negotiations, we are glad to see progress in the much needed privacy reform effort,” said Raegan MacDonald, European Policy Manager. “But while we welcome this step forward, we cannot ignore that the Council’s text has carved out so many loopholes it’s not even consistent with the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights.”
In particular, the Council’s text would allow companies to collect and repeatedly use citizens’ personal information without their knowledge (Article 6.4). It would also enable companies to transfer this personal data to countries that do not have rules or a mechanism in place to ensure the protection of this data (Article 38). Simply put, under the Council text, it would be impossible for anyone to know what is happening to their personal data or who has access to it.
“The Council seems to have overlooked the impetus behind the privacy reform effort as its approach deprives citizens the ability to control their data. This is simply intolerable,” added MacDonald. “In order for the Regulation to have any value for citizens, we’ll need more ambition and less political discord in the trialogue negotiations.”
Over the last three years, ongoing negotiations and unprecedented levels of lobbying from industries and foreign governments have added to the heightened sense of anticipation in Brussels. In addition, the most recent legislation regulating data protection in the EU was passed in 1995. This Data Protection reform is a unique opportunity to modernise and update the rules. We should not squander this opportunity to provide citizens with meaningful legislation that protects their right to privacy.
“Data protection and privacy are fundamental rights in the EU and must be protected as such,” said Raegan MacDonald. “As trialogue starts, we urge negotiators to put citizens, not businesses, in control of their personal data.”
European Policy Manager
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